Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cardigan heaven...

Wow, it's a while since I've had time to post. Last weekend Margaret (Eddy's mum) came to stay for the weekend, and boy did we fill it with lots of things!!

Friday night we went out for a delicious curry. On Saturday we went to the wool shop in Leeds - I'd seen their stall at the Pudsey Lace Event, and really wanted to see the shop... more about that later :). In the afternoon we went to Leeds Industrial Museum then into the city centre for coffee. That evening we watched a movie and knitted. Well, Eddy didn't, but Margaret and I did! Sunday we went on the Keighley valley railway - we did the whole loop on a lovely steam train, then went to Riddlesden Hall for lunch and a good explore of the house. Afterwards we had tea and cakes at Salt's Mill in Saltaire and that evening we ate out at the Calverley Arms... I can't believe we fitted so much into a weekend (which is probably why I was so tired on Monday).

Anyway, the wool shop. The selection of wool was great - good variety of types and colours, and not too much really expensive stuff - which means making clothing wouldn't cost the earth. There was a great table to sit at and leaf through patterns, and lots of models on display, for inspiration. Best of all, the couple running the shop were lovely and really helpful. I came away with some 'sublime' wool in a lovely denim blue, which I'm knitting into a fitted cardigan/jacket. By the time Margaret left I'd already completed the back and one front. Since then I've done one sleeve, and started the other... it's a lovely design by Twilley's of Stamford, and a really easy knit! I especially love the crochet style edging:

While I was there I saw some 'Signature' wool by stylecraft - it's a now discontinued range, and was on offer. We found another great cardigan pattern it would be suited to, but sadly there wasn't enough left in the shop - I needed 24 balls! I did a quick google search at home, and found some going VERY cheap at rock-a-bye-baby... They only had 20 balls but this was the same dye lot as the stuff in Leeds - so guess where I went again this Saturday!! Overall I have to say that I received AMAZING customer service at both shops - which is so valuable in the current climate. I'll definitely keep both as favourite shops...

Speaking of good customer service, the threads I ordered from Thread Bear arrived this week - it's the first time I've ordered from them. I love the fact my stash was carefully wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a pretty red ribbon. Again, I will go back!

So I finally had the necessary Apple Cider for Hedgerow Birds. I've now finished the front, and I've made great progress on the back - it's probably about 3/4 stitched now.

Sorry for the crumpled state of these photos - I've been stitching this in hand.

Well, that's what I've been up to of late... now time to try and catch up on reading everyone else's blogs...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Knitting and stitching

I had a real urge to knit last week. All I had in the house was the super chunky wool needed to make a scarf identical to the one I did for 'knit the walls of York' last year. I finished it the following day, and sewed in the loose ends on Saturday:

Last week my mum came to stay for 3 days. We went to the Leeds City Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute, Hebdon Bridge and Haworth, then just before she left on Thursday morning we went to Texere Yarns. Mmmmmm, wool... I took along my scarf book intending to get some aran, but decided 6 balls at £3.10 a ball was a bit much for a scarf (ahem), I changed tactic, and went for a lovely chenille called 'Merlot' to make another scarf in the same book. It's taken me a while to be able to do that pattern without reading and checking every row, and I taught myself how to use markers (and made them from an old bit of ribbon), but now it's coming along nicely. I still can't keep track of the 22 pattern rows (many of which are the same), and because the chenille is flat and it twists I find counting to rows really tricky, so I have resorted to a tally chart on a post it note! Anyway, here it is:

I think I'm addicted to cables...

I've also been working on Hedgerow Birds. I'm still waiting for the extra skein of Apple Cider, because one of the extras I ordered to bulk up the order is out of stock, so I've left off the birds and date on the first side - so if the skein is a different shade it won't be too noticeable. Other than these bits I've finished the first side and started the back:

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Lots of progress

Once again I gone into butterfly mode, flitting from one project to the next...

I've made lots of progress on Hedgerow Birds:

I've started a Sweetheart Tree biscornu (my first ever bis), but haven't really made enough progress to warrant a snap yet.

I made two more blocks of Amish Star. I've love the red/green block. Actually, they are both pretty nice, although the blue/green one is actually blue green and brown, my camera is doing a bad job of getting colours right...

And I made a little gift for Sarah, one of my PhD students who is heading back to the states this weekend. It's a Celtic knot design from Celtic Charted Designs by CO Spinhoven/Dover Press. I backed it with the fabric it's resting on. I finished it late yesterday and then dashed over to Chrissie's for Sarah's last stitch and bitch - where we had a lengthy discussion about who gave me the book. Chrissie and Sonia both said they had to book and might have LENT it to me, but I'm sure it was a gift... possibly from Sarah and Amy, from when Sarah was working at the Scottish Crannog centre - but none of us are very sure!! Anyway, Sarah loved it, and it will join a Highland Cow bookmark that I stitched her around about when she was in Scotland!

I'm still off work, but slowly getting back to rights. My mum is coming to stay for a few days - I need to leave for Leeds train station in about 10 minutes... I'm planning a trip to Texere Yarns as part of the festivities, as we're both trying to get (back) into knitting.... Told you I was flitting from project to project.

Oh yes, and as part of my stash buying at the weekend I bought some Quaker Cloth for my next TW start... It's a biggie!

Happy Stitching x

Friday, 4 February 2011

TUSAL and stitching

Ooops, nearly missed the new moon! I had it in my head that it was the 4th, but it was yesterday! It's the 4th in March (now need to keep the number 4 in my brain for another month...). Here is my update for the Totally Useless Stitch Along, hosted by the lovely Sharon:

There is a real mix of threads here. The pale purple/blue towards the bottom was from the sky of Wild Thyme Fairy. That's sandwiched between some orts from A New Beginning. I then have some from Hedgerow Birds, the huge pile of white is from my lace, and the pinks on top from Hedgerow Birds again. There's a lot of pink because the froggies came a visiting on Thursday...

Here's a (pretty dreadful) photo of Hedgerow Birds:

Initially I found that although I enjoy working on this loose weave, low count fabric (20ct), my stitches were quite wonky. I've finally figured out how to get them to lie better with less overlapping of threads, so the area to the right (stitched this week) is much neater. Maybe the back will be perfect ;). Oh, and those frogs. Like an idiot I stitches all of the flowers in pink, totally missing that two were in purple! I was half way through the J (in pink) when I realised. All sorted now.

And now my credit card bill has been issued I'm off to do a little online retail therapy. After all, I NEED that apple cider to use on Hedgerow Birds, and just one skein would be a real waste of postage charges...

Happy Stitching :)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Bedfordshire flower

It's done!!! Yesterday I finally sewed in the last thread on the Bedfordshire lace flower I was making. Quite a few people commented on my last post about this lace piece about the huge mound of bobbins, and how I keep them in order. So I thought I'd try and explain... and show how the final furlong of this finish panned out!!

First I should say that the photo in my last post (and here again) is a little misleading...

Most of those bobbins had been 'thrown out' or discarded when they were no longer needed - more pairs of bobbins are needed to make the leaves and petals - so you add pairs in at the start of the leaf, and throw them out towards the end! It's figuring out where to do that as invisibly as possible that's the tricky part. Anyway, this is how many pairs of bobbins I needed to finish that last little bit:

As you can see, they are all carefully organised onto large safety pins which are threaded through the spangles (beads). This means I can move any sections of bobbins I don't need out of the way, without them getting muddled up. You rarely, if ever, work with all of those bobbins at once!!

If they do get muddled up I look at the threads to make sure they are running in order - in cloth stitch (the outer border) the passive threads should all be parallel to each other, with no crosses or twists.

Anyway, at this point I just needed the bobbins on the left of the piece - so I moved the other two groups of bobbins out of the way, took the bobbins I needed off the safety pin and grouped them back into pairs:

Once I'd finished the bit of lace, I joined the ends together, and cut all of the ends off:

Once I'd taken all of the pins put I was left with a huge pile of loose threads:

Usually I make lace face down, so I could have cut the ends off close to the work, but this piece was made face up. So to make sure none of the cut ends showed, I carefully sewed each one through to the back of the work, and cut it off there... which needed a small sharp needle, LOTS of light, and even more patience. Hmm, I think I'll try and stick to face down pieces in future!!

And here is the final piece:

There are some areas which look so neat I can't believe I made the lace, and other areas I'm less happy with in comparison - but this is by far the neatest piece of lace I've ever made... I learnt so many techniques and tips on Christine Springett's course last year - I can't wait for the next one in May!

Happy Stitching :)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Progress and Goals

I have a confession to make - I've been off work for a couple of weeks with anxiety/stress... so I've made WAY more progress on everything than normal. I'm feeling much better now, and hope to get back to work soon. But on the plus side it's been a great opportunity for some real progress - with all of my crafts!

On Sunday I felt like quilting - and pulled out Amish star. I completed 3 more blocks, making that 4 in total, and therefore 1/4 of the blocks are done. Here are some photos:

This one is my favourite so far... it's the colours...

And all 4 blocks together

I've also been stitching Hedgerow Birds, and I'm really happy with the progress so far:

Hedgerow Birds, Blackbird Designs

Thanks to Gio for answering my question about the floss - I had a feeling you'd know ;)

Also, I completely forgot to answer a question Gina had about Wild Thyme Fairy - in actual fact the amount of back stitching wasn't too bad at all. I did most of it in one evening, and for the most part is wasn't fiddly - long stitches, and only one colour. The face detail was a little more complicated, as it's essentially over one, but there was so little of it, that armed with a sharp needle, it was not too bad at all. The BS on this was much better than on Pooh and Eeyore, let alone a TW or Dracolair!!

Right, time for February goals... I was quite pleased with my progress in January:

1) stitch an ornament did two
2) finish Wild Thyme Fairy yes
3) start Hedgerow Birds yes
4) work on another WIP yes - A New Beggining got quite a bit of attention
5) lace, hopefully... yes - the flower motif is almost finished

February goals:

1) Finish sewing in the threads on the Bedfordshire flower, and also complete a lace ornament I have almost done
2) Work on another lace project
3) Work on Hedgerow Birds
4) Work on another WIP
5) Do some quilting
6) Maybe start some knitting

That should keep me busy :)

I'll try and post about my lace tomorrow... hopefully I'll have finished it by then.

Happy Stitching!