Wednesday, 4 December 2013

What happened to November?

I can't believe we're into December already. I had so many plans for handmade goodies this Christmas but I'm starting to hyperventilate at the thought of all I want to do, and the time left to do it. I'm sure November was shorter than normal this year!
I was reminded by the gorgeous Autumnal wreath on Attic24 that I had Christmas wreathy plans myself. I covered the polystyrene base with random stripes of festive colours - so far,so good.

I then wanted a vast selection of leaves and flowers and baubles and robins and other fripperies to smother my wreath with. 

So far I've managed one sprig of mistletoe and a holly leaf!

Oh dear - some way to go then!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Extreme crocheting!

On Friday I tested my crocheting skills to the limit. A hospital appointment meant I had several hours of waiting around - the perfect opportunity for guilt-free crochet, one might think. Unfortunately the nature of the appointment meant the first thing to happen to me was the application of eye drops which dilated my pupils. The result of this was that the world was suddenly a very blurry place! Not to be deterred I managed to produce three corsages from some of my leftover Noro yarn without being able to see where my hook was going - blind crochet! I now have my normal vision again and am pleased to report that there are no apparent errors.

It's not a technique I would recommend but it's nice to know I can do it if I must!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Gone fishing...

I've done a couple of scraper boards for the Christmas craft fair this weekend. I like them black and white but I've also copied them onto watercolour paper so I can experiment with adding colour to them tonight. I'm setting up the for the fair tomorrow morning, so I'm cutting it rather fine, but I like to work to a tight deadline!

I think fish might be my new obsession - I want to try them as linocuts and paintings as well. Right, I better go and cook tea, paint the fish, pack up the paintings, finish some crocheted corsages..... Aargh!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Noro Cowl

After finishing the Stevenson Sweater I felt the need for something fast and colourful to crochet. I'd been eyeing up the Noro yarns for a while and decided to take a couple of colour ways of the Silk Garden Lite home with me to experiment with. I had an idea of making a deep cowl to keep me warm on my winter dog walks. I'd seen the beautiful Chameleon blanket by Tracy St. John on Ravelry and was keen to use the the same pattern but join it up to make a tube. It grew really quickly (and ate up the yarn at an alarming rate!) and once joined, all I had to do was decide on the edging. I wanted something robust and tubular so I did a row of slip stitches along the edges and from there did 4 rows of double crochet. I stitched the edge of this to the inside edge of the cowl and thereby enclosed the loops of yarn that had been carried up one side of the rows. I got the idea of using the slip stitches to create a neat edge from Pinterest and I'm really pleased with how it worked.

I used 5 balls of the Silk Garden Lite but had most of the fifth ball left over so today I've had fun making butterflies. I think I'll use the rest for some corsages - the Christmas Craft Fair that I take part in is fast approaching and I need to build up my stock!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Finished Stevenson Sweater...

Hurray! I made my deadline of the end of the month to finish this sweater. And much to my surprise I've knit something that fits and that I will actually wear! The pattern was very well written and easy to follow. I made a couple of changes to the neckline - the original is quite high and round, which doesn't suit me, so I lowered it and made it more angular by continuing with the decreases into the ribbed section.

I've also discovered how hard it is to take a photo of yourself without a great big phone obscuring the view! This was the best I could manage. 

I'm pleased with the overall fit of this sweater but I would have liked it to be a bit longer - I did extend the middle section but if I were to do this again I think I would knit the ribbing straight and not begin the waist decreasing rounds until the patterned section. This would lengthen the body and also prevent the slight flare of the ribbing. I think these issues are more to do with my body shape than the pattern itself.

I have now well and truly got the knitting bug, and working in Marmalade Yarns one day a week is proving very dangerous - so many yarns, so little time! I have already lined up two sock projects, a
crocheted scarf, and a cardigan, only to find out this week that good friends are expecting twin girls in the Spring! At last a reason to knit cute baby-sized clothes and crochet some more baby blankets.  I feel a lowering of housework standards may be on the cards!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Circles bag...

...finished at last! I ended up not using the zip, but I may insert it at a later date.  I made stripy sides and used a spotty fabric for the lining. I had toyed with the idea of coloured handles but went with simple black ones in the end. I'm pleased with the density of the crocheted panels, and having used it a few times now, it seems quite robust.

I used the same Rowan Fine Tweed that I used for my Fairisle Tam, so I only need to make a scarf and I shall be completely coordinated for Winter!

Next up is completion of the Stevenson sweater and then I have a polystyrene wreath base that is crying out for a tasteful crocheted covering! Before that, though, is a lovely commission for a painting of British wild flowers which I hope to start tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Knitting like a woman possessed...

One of the many reasons I love to crochet is because it grows so quickly. I also tend not to make things to wear, so fit and tension are not an issue. However, ever since getting my mitts on Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies I've had a growing desire to knit one of her fabulous patterns. I am a very slow knitter so my choice of the Stevenson Sweater was due, in part, to the fact that it has very short sleeves! Nevertheless I finally started it this week with a sense of trepidation. One week in and I am absolutely obsessed with seeing it grow. My index fingers are developing callouses and I've lost the power of speech but I'm loving it! I've still a long, long way to go but I'm optimistic that I'll finish it before my target of the end of October!

I haven't forgotten about my little crocheted bag - the crochet is done, the lining and handles chosen and the zip bought. I have finally set up my sewing machine and plan to finish it this weekend, if only I can be dragged away from my knitting needles!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Slow progress...

This bag is taking much longer than I anticipated. The motifs took a while, and then sewing in all the ends took a while longer! I decided to make two rectangular sides with 20 motifs each. Because I want this to form a dense, almost felted fabric, I had used a much smaller hook than I would normally use with this yarn and this resulted in the motifs being very curled. I forced them into submission with the steam iron and then soaked and pinned them once I'd sewed them together.

I've decided to make stripy sides and a plain grey base and then I need to make a lining and decide on the handles. This 'quick' project is turning into a rather drawn out affair!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Crocheted circles...

I've had some thoughts for a while about using this Rowan Fine Tweed for a bag design.

 I wanted to use a circular motif and was reminded by the lovely little woollie blog of a pattern I'd stored away for future use.  I deliberately chose a smaller hook than I'd normally use with this yarn, as I want the fabric to be dense and sturdy. And so little circles grew into big circles!

I've decided to do a single round only of the squaring off bit, as I want the circles to fill most of the space. I haven't yet decided on the shape of the bag so I'm hoping that inspiration will strike as I make up some more motifs! I may just have to spend some more time on Pinterest!

Monday, 26 August 2013

The last of the moths...

I finished the last 6 moths over the weekend and enjoyed seeing them on my studio wall for a day or two before framing them up today.



I tried a dark grey background as well as a cream one and couldn't decide which I preferred so I asked the person who'd commissioned them, and she chose cream.

So here they are all framed up and ready to fly to their new home!

Friday, 23 August 2013

5 more moths...

I spent a lovely day in the studio today researching and painting moths. They really are amazing in their diversity, and whilst I'm enjoying painting them, I'm not sure I'd want to spend much time with the real things!

Here they are altogether. I hope to do the final 6 over the weekend and then I can sort out their final arrangement before framing them.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Ready for Autumn

Hurrah! I finished the shawl and was able to block it in the sunshine this morning. I pinned it over a towel and into the lawn and hoped for the best.

When I went to check if it was dry I found the brave and fearless Mabel protecting it from the local wildlife! 

I'm pleased with how it turned out, particularly the subtle change of colour in the border.  Here it is modelled by son number 2!

I've spent some time sorting out my studio and trying to make space for my ever growing stash of yarns.

And I finally got my paintbrushes out again and painted a moth! Yay! One down, eleven to go!

I've started some new crochet work and most excitingly of all, from 9th September I shall be working in the lovely Marmalade Yarns every Monday - I can't wait! If you're in the Frome area do pop in - the shop has just had a lick of paint inside and out and is full of beautiful yarns. 

I'm ready for Autumn - bring it on!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Time off...

I've just returned from two glorious weeks in Turkey with family and friends. I spent my time eating, drinking, laughing, swimming (bobbing!), reading and generally recharging my batteries. I did no knitting, crochet, sewing, drawing or painting but now I'm home I'm raring to go.  I need to finish my shawl first and I also have a commission for a moth painting. Then it's time to experiment with some crochet ideas and I also have an idea for a linocut. Rather scarily, my best friend has also requested a knitted cardigan for her 'big' birthday next year. I introduced her to the joys of Ravelry whilst sipping gin and tonics by the pool and I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew!! Will it fit, will she like it? Her birthday isn't until May so plenty of time to worry about it!

The shawl is nearing completion - I've just started the border. I had to start a new skein which looks quite different to the first one - it's much less variegated. I'm hoping it will look like an intentional border effect rather than a mistake!

I'm also sorting out and generally tidying up my studio in preparation for my Autumn work!  Photos of that and some hairy painted moths coming soon!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Back on track...

After a very busy couple of weeks I finally have some time to sit and enjoy the sunshine. How appropriate then to chose to knit a shawl in the middle of a heat wave! However, I'm finding this pattern very soothing as the end of term madness comes to a climax!

Frome Festival enjoyed its best weather ever and there was a lovely atmosphere in the town. We did see lots of hot and sweaty folk braving the Arts Trail and both weekends went well. The crocheted pebbles had a mixed reaction ("what's the point of them?" was my favourite comment!) but I did make sales!

Blurry shot taken whilst setting up!

I don't feel like I've crocheted anything substantial for ages, so next up is another bag design - hope to have some pictures soon!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Crocheted pebbles

A colleague at work has requested a crocheted pebble. I've seen lots of lovely examples on Pinterest but had never tried making one. The first couple I tried I used a mercerised DK cotton, and whilst I quite liked the end result, it felt a little chunky. Then I tried using some fine crochet cotton and prefer the effect it gives.

I feel the need to buy some more colours! It was quite fiddly at first getting used to crocheting over the pebble, but it is strangely satisfying when it all comes together. I made the patterns up as I went along and enjoyed seeing how the stitch patterns worked when stretched so tightly. 

I also varnished the little painted pebbles I did a while back - I thought I might try selling them at the open studios at the weekend.

I've also been framing up my paintings - I buy frames whenever I see a bargain and I always enjoy matching pictures to frames. 

Lots more to do before the weekend so I better get off the sofa and back to the studio!