Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dishcloth Cotton

I've been having an online chat with Sally in Wales on Downsizer and Ravelry about kniting dishcloths. Knit in 100% cotton they are hard wearing, useful can be thrown on the compost heap when finally disintegrated and a great opportunity to try new stitch patterns.

Here in the UK it would seem we are only able to find suitable cotton in white or ecru while in the States there are all kinds of colours available. Ravelry is great and it looks like we might be able to get hold of some coloured stuff quite easily.

Whilst checking out the Ravelry profile of SMuFlo who had recommended a great supplier for dishcloth cotton I went to her blog and she had a great quiz - what kind of yarn are you? 


What kind of yarn are you?



You are Dishcloth Cotton.You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.
Take this quiz!






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It's obviously meant to be!!!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Enabling

One of the things I like best about the internet chat forums is how you frequently find wonderful things that you simply have to have.

This week I bought the Peacock Chair kit:



I was intrigued by such an innovative way to finish a piece of stitching and just had to have it. Look at how clever it is.......



On the back is a pouch to put your scissors in and the cushion is the scissor fob.

It came with the threads and cardboard templates and I bought the pearl gray linen at the stitching show last weekend. I like to have a project to work on over the Christmas holiday and I think this may be it.

I've also caught the buzz for the Just Nan Christmas Workshop from the Silver Needle....................



See what I mean - if it wasn't for the forums I wouldn't even know they existed and there is so more more....................

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Stitch Friends - part 4

Since Thursday the Knitting & Stitching Show has been on in Harrogate (UK). I live about 20 minutes outside Harrogate so it would have been rude not to go.

I went on Thursday afternoon by myself.

Today I went with some friends from A Crafty Natter.

Stitch Friends are the best. Today I saw things that I somehow missed on Thursday. On Thursday I thought the show was OK but not brilliant. Today I think the show was amazing.

I didn't buy too much. I got some pearl gray 32 count belfast linen (for a specific project), a subscription to Stitch Magazine from the Embroiders Guild, a really little craft light/magnifier to take to Guild meetings, workshops, meet ups and lace lessons. I also got a little box for £2 which has 24 bobbins, some buttons, stitch ripper, needles, needle threader and zips. It's going to live next to my sewing machine and be really useful.

We chatted, and laughed. We fondled Caron threads. We Ohhed and Ahhed at the buttons and gasped at the price of some of the charts/materials.

So for the past 3 weeks I've spent Saturdays with Stitch Friends - I'll miss them next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stitch Friends - part 3

The day at Nuneaton was lovely.

It's so nice to spend several hours in the company of like minded friends. We chatted and laughed. We drank tea and shared goody bags. Some of us did a little bit of stitching but most of all we had a fantastic time.

Thank you everybody and see you at the next one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stitch friends - part 2

As I've mentioned before I chat often on a forum called A Crafty Natter (link on the right cos I'm a Mac user with Safari and I don't seem to get the same posting options as when I use IE). A couple of times a year we all meet up in Nuneaton (UK).

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the November meet up. It is a couple of hours drive for me but so worth it. I've missed the last couple and before then they were the Aion meet ups so this will actually be my first Crafty Natter meet up - and I'm really looking forward to it.

My stitching bag is packed. I'm taking the festive candlewrap and Pretty in Pink which is the perfect meet up stitching. I don't have to concentrate too much and I'm in the flow of the pattern and it's so huge it's a great conversation piece.

I've got a goody bag - we all take one and get one back full of goodies.

I think I've decided what to take for show and tell - Forever Loved, Alpine WIP and my current lace project.

Just need to decide what to take for lunch and I'll be ready.

This is the second of three consecutive stitchy weekends for me. In fact if I wasn't going to Nuneaton tomorrow it would have been my EG meeting. Next Saturday - Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate, UK.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stitchy Friends - part 1

On Saturday my bestest stitchy friend and her hubby drove a couple of hours north to come and visit my family and me.

I'm very lucky that if you drive north through the Dales you come to a small place called Embsay. Many people know if for the steam railway that runs from there. Crafty types know it for a different reason - Embsay Crafts.

It's a wonderful place in a large old woolen mill in the depths of Yorkshire. split into three halves (yes I know that' not possible but I think it describes it better than saying split into thirds).

The newest part and the one I rarely visit is a department dedicated to Scrapbooking.

There's a large patchwork section. This has grown recently and carries a wonderful range of fabrics. Unfortunately I find patchworking so expensive that it's not something I do very often.

My favourite part is the needlework shop. I've been visiting Embsay for four years and for a couple of years I felt that the needlework shop was being 'run down'. The stock wasn't exciting and it felt like it wasn't being updated. I suppose during this time they were devleoping the Scrapbooking and patchworking departments so maybe that was taking their time and attention.

Colly and I were dropped off by my wonderful DH who kind enough to go to the supermarket so I could go out to play.

We started off at the beads - this is another new section that they have given a largish alcove to. They had some really nice ones we were a bit dismayed that there didn't appear to be any Mill Hill beads. After a quick ask of the lovely lady behind the counter we found them. They were in a really awkward place.

Colly is a wonderful designer and I've been stitching since I was nine. This means that we are both quite particular when it comes to charts and kits that are available in shops. Imagine our delight to come across some charts/kits that neither of us had seen before.

Embsay had a wonderful display of Rico Designs all with a Christmas theme. What pleased us the most was the innovate way the kits were made up - they included the hardware for bell pulls!!!!

Although I was sorely tempted I was seriously broke so I could only look. Colly succumbed and bought this one..........



Isn't it fab?

The next room is full of threads - this is another area that has really improved recently. It was crammed with threads. Both every day ones and more speciality ones. There was also a small sale area where Colly picked up something - better not tell what it's for though.

Feeling in need of tea and cakes we started to go upstairs. This takes some time because the walls are lined with some wonderful pieces of work. In particular we ooohed and ahhed over the Moira Blackburn samplers.

There is a lovely tea room upstairs next to the knitting section where we had the largest, scrummiest mug of hot chocolate.

Then it was a quick look at the patchwork and cardmaking sections and we went back to the needlework bit to pay for Collys stuff.

It was the first time I have been to Embsay with a stitching friend and it was so much more fun than going alone - thank you Colly for a perfect afternoon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Three down several more to go.

When I woke up this morning I felt as if I had a huge hangover. Unfortunately I hadn't had the pleasure the night before. This made me determined not to waste my Sunday.

First of all I finished a name badge. I chat regularly on an ezboard forum called A Crafty Natter (link on the right). It's a great place where some wonderful people hang out. For me it replaces the mighty Aion which sadly closed during the summer. A lot of the girls from Aion have joined A Crafty Natter and we've met lots of new people too.

Next Saturday we are having a meet up and the talented Colly from Cols Creations designed name badges for us to make.



Then I decided to finish a needleroll for a Christmas Exchange I'm in on A Crafy Natter. I had finished the stitching and had hemstitched one end. This morning I hemstitched the other end and got the sewing machine out and sewed it up the back. Unfortunately the ribbon I had bought for it is too thick so I was unable to stuff it. Still nearly there. No pictures yet because it's an exchange.

On a bit of a roll at this point I picked up a piece that I started at a workshop about 18 months ago. It was a lovely weekend hosted by Jayne of Jaynes Attic with Carol Tinson from Heirloom Embroideries teaching. The workshop piece was Forever Loved which I don't think was on general release at the time. Carol guided us through changing the colours of the threads and the beads.

This morning I realised it only needed 11 beads and it would be finished - well that bit was easy.

A quick rummage in the fabric bag and I found a perfect piece of fabric for the backing and my friend Colly had already generously given me a piece of lilac fabric for the lining. I had recently bought some interfacing for another project so I was good to go.

Two hours later.....................



Think I'll go and finish the festive candlewrap.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On the Hoop



As well as one large project I usually have at least one smaller project that I’m working on.

These tend to be for exchanges, gift or decorations. At the moment I am finishing a needleroll for a Christmas Exchange on A Crafty Natter – I can’t share that one at the moment.

My other small project is a Festive Candlewrap by one of my favourite designers – Colette from Cols Creations (link on the right).

Hardanger is one of my favourite types of needlework. In the summer I was fortunate to win a silver cup at our village show with a piece of Hardanger. I have a large Hardanger table cloth on the go and a Handanger bell pull that just needs finishing off.

There are so many things I enjoy about Hardanger:

The rhythm of stitching Kloster Blocks. Understanding the pattern and mindlessly doing five over four is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The challenge of button hole stitch. I haven’t done much of this stitch. Pretty in Pink the large table cloth has a lot of it and I’ve done a little bit so far. The Festive Candlewrap has it all around edge.

To begin with I was finding it scruffy and the thread kept untwisting and coming apart. I asked for advice on A Crafty Natter (don’t you love forums) and as a result I changed my needle to one that is slightly thicker and with a larger eye. This is placing less stress on the thread as the hole in the fabric is made larger so passes through more easily. A larger eye also helps hold the thread more gently.

I’m not totally satisfied with how it’s looking but I can tell it is getting better. This is a stitch that I need lots of practice with.

Cutting the threads. What can I say – sharp scissors, good light, patience and plenty of time.

Wrapping the stitches. Another part that I find rhythmic and satisfying and the work really starts to take on the personality of the design.

Decorative stitches and beading. This is the icing on the cake. At this point I sometimes question if they might be too much making the piece too fussy. I am always wrong. As the decorative stitches take shape and the beading begins to sparkle I watch a beautiful design come alive.

I think the candlewraps that Colly designs are such a good idea. At the December meeting of the Embroiders Guild we all take a Christmas Decoration for the festive table and I have decided to take two of these wrapped around red candles – very festive

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Backstitch

I'm not normally a fan of backstitch. When it is used to define a picture that has already been stitched I find I get bored.

I'm doing part 3 of Alpine at the moment and the whole part is backstitching. It's quite complicated there are a lot of different colours and I use my computer to look at the colour chart where the thread numbers are listed so I can get the colours right. I use the paper chart to get the placement right. I was dreading it............I thought it would be tedious.............I was wrong.......



This is a classic case of have trust in the designer - it is looking absolutely fabulous (even if I say so myself).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bobbin Lace

As well as embroidery, knitting and now spinning for the last couple of years I've been learning to make Bobbin Lace - in particular Torchon.

Every Thursday evening I drive from my home on the edge of the middle of nowhere along some tight windy country roads and arrive in the depths of the middle of nowhere. There I sit for the evening before an Aga in the front parlour of a very old house having my lesson.

I was nine years old when I first thought I might like to make bobbin lace but it was over 20 years later before I started.

There are many crafts/hobbies that look difficult - like knitting - but actually are quite easy - learn to knit and purl and everything else is a mix up of those two stitches. I have never heard anybody say making lace is easy.



This is part of one of my two current wips - I started in on October 5th 2006 and I think there's about another 6 weeks work in there. It's an oval and the pattern is repeated 4 times. I admit this isn't one of those things like knitting that you can just pick up and do 5 or 10 mins whenever you feel like it. To sit down at my lace I must not be tired, drunk or angry. Although I can chat I can't watch TV, listen to the radio, music or podcasts. I must be at the dining room table and cannot just get up and walk away - leaving it needs to be more planned. For example if you walked away in the middle of a half stitch trail there is no telling what mess you would find on your return. And as for not fastening in a spider - forget it.

This means that other than my weekly lesson I get very little time to sit and make lace. This is the one thing I do that completely proves I am a process person.

I love making lace............



The pillows are gorgeous - I currently have two but am in the market for a third.



The bobbins are beautiful - my favourites were made by a talented man who is no longer with us and whenever my fingers recognise one of his my heart sings with memories.



The spangles are .......................well they are sparkly - need I say more?



This isn't an expensive hobby - there are very few shops even online ones are rare. I have two opportunities a year to shop for lace making stash - one in October and one in March when the Lace Fair comes to town. However, once set up there isn't really much to buy - in the last 12 months I have spend about £15 (excluding lessons) on stash. If you add a nought then you are closer to what I've probably spent on knitting and stitching in the same time.

I love the fact that lace making was once such an important part of peoples lives in the UK and by learning the skills I'm in some way keeping those memories alive. Although this is true for knitting there are so few people making bobbin lace that I fear it's a skill that may very well die out.

These are all the reasons I love to make lace - why does this make me a process person...........................

...............it's because I don't really have any use for the finished product.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alpine - Part 2

Since coming out of the cupboard Alpine has been getting a lot of attention - so much so that part 2 is now finished.



Well.............that's not quite true....................I haven't finished the over one. I was getting so frustrated with it and not really liking how it was looking that I'm going to go back to that bit. I think if I do a bit at a time whilst I'm doing the rest I wont notice it so much!!!!!

I started part 3 last night. Its all backstitched alpine flowers and goes all the way around what's done so far. It looks ever so complicated. I'm taking it one section at a time. I know the placement of the centre is correct so I'm checking with each bit that it's lined up right. I think if I do one section a day during the week and two or three on Saturday and Sunday I should get to part 4 quite quickly.

Last night my DH told me how much he's going to enjoy looking at it once it's finished as not only is it very pretty but he'll appreciate all the work that's gone into it. Gosh......................no pressure then!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How perfect


I love living in the middle of nowhere - it's beautiful, quiet and keeps me in touch with nature. The main disadvantage is that I have to get in the car whenever I go anywhere. The shortest journey would be to the patchwork shop at 15 minutes, the needlework shops are 20 minutes in one direction and 30 minutes in the other (you can tell where my priorities are forget supermarkets, school and work). There is one and only one exception - Embroiders Guild meetings.

A year or so ago the local branch moved from one end of the Dale (20 minutes away) to the other. They meet in the church hall which is a 5 minute stroll down the hill. I started going when they first moved and then haven't been able to make a meeting for almost a year - until yesterday.


As I strolled along the lane the sun was shining, the view was spectacular. It was a crisp and brisk October day. I had my needlework over my shoulder and knew I was going to spend the day with like-minded people.

Although it's been a long time I was welcomed kindly and spent a lovely morning stitching and chatting. I wasn't sure what to take to work on. Alpine is just too big and I would have had to drive. In the end Pretty in Pink was chosen.



This has been a WIP for ages. Originally started as a SAL on Aion but I haven't worked on it with any regularity. As I'm doing the Kloster blocks it's perfect for a stitch & chat. I find it quite hard to read pattern sometimes but thanks to Colly (the best Hardanger designer in the world) who colour coded the chart for me it's been much easier. This isn't going to be a finished piece for a long time but it is a really relaxing stitch.

During the afternoon we had a speaker "Liberating the Liberty Bodice". The part of the talk I found most interesting was how from a scrap of an idea a whole project germinated. She talked about what inspired her to move from one aspect of the project to another - fascinating.

At the end of the afternoon I struggled back up the hill home - the sun was shining, the trees were beautiful - a perfect day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gardening with stitches

I have always wanted to be a gardener. I love the thought of spending a day in the garden, digging, weeding, planting, caring for the plants and at the end of the day sitting back with a glass of wine made with the fruits of my labours and enjoying natures beauty.

My reality is very different. I think I’ve tried to garden twice. I’ve gone out with the trowel and dug, weeded and planted and the bit I was ‘practising’ on looked lovely when I finished. Yet nature did her best and within a few days my piece of garden was doing what it wanted again and it looked beautiful. I just can’t bring my self to tame nature, to cultivate and make it do what I want………………so I don’t garden.

I love visiting beautiful gardens, reading gardening books and watching the TV programmes I just don’t do it.

Yes I know this blog isn’t a gardening blog - it’s a stitching blog……………………….I’m very excited…………………yesterday I got this from the library.



I’ve been considering buying it since it came out last year but unusually for me I resisted. So many embroidery books that I have bought in haste I have been disappointed in. However, be assured that this has just gone on my wish list and will soon be living in my house forever.

I’ve been trying to work out why I think this book is so wonderful:
  • It’s very well written from both the practical and historical point of view.
  • The pictures are stunning.
  • It’s humble – and by that I mean that I don’t feel the writers are claiming to be an expert in anything (despite the fact that they are). It feels as if they genuinely want to share their experience.
  • It’s inspirational – I want to go out and visit gardens with my sketchbook, camera and a flask of hot coffee.

I have a favourite garden – Chalice Well in Glastonbury, Somerset (UK). It’s a sacred site that has drawn pilgrims for centuries. It has a well, a water feature, a swing seat, beautiful plants, quiet spots, yew trees……………………………………….


This is my inspiration – my sketchbook is open my brain is buzzing and my fingers twitching……………………………….

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Traditional Embroidery by Penelope

I am very fond of charity shops, when money is tight I can often find just what I need/want.

The other day I popped into my local Oxfam and my eye was immediately drawn to this……………..



It was on special display on top of some shelves. Intrigued I picked it up and quickly glanced through it. I had to buy it – it cost less than £10.00.

There is no date in it. New it cost 3/- and was published by WM Briggs & Co in Manchester, UK. The introduction is written by Lady Smith-Dorien, Principle of the Royal School of Needlework, Kensington, SW7. She starts by saying…

“It has always been an ambition of the Royal School of Needlework to put correct period designs within easy reach of the many needlewomen in Great Britain and The Empire…..”

I don’t think I have ever read the words Great Britain and The Empire in context in my whole life.

The designs featured are lovely and the instructions, such as there are, assume good knowledge of needlework techniques for example for this piece….



… part of the instructions read

“All the stems and leaves in the design are in shade (297) but peacock blue shade (82f) is continued into the serrated leaves in the form of veins. These veins you will notice, take two rows of stitchery in most cases."

There are at least three pieces that I would really like to try and stitch. I’ll need to look up the recommended threads and fabrics to see if they are still available and if not substitute them. I think this may be a really challenging and satisfying research and stitching project.

I have no idea how it ended up in Oxfam but I am very pleased it did.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stitching Bloggers Question of the Week

"What for you means to achieve mastery as a stitcher?"

I was 9 years old when I first picked up a needle to embroider – that’s 29 years ago and a needle in my fingers feels as much a part of me as my own heartbeat.

As I considered this week’s question I thought about being a stitcher and these are some of the things that I thought of. This is the list I came up with:

  • I understand about using different types of needles.
  • I know about cotton threads, silk threads, metallics, over dyed and know of different ways to handle them to ensure good results.
  • I love speciality stitches and marvel at how a piece can come alive with a carefully place Rhodes stitch or row of mosaic stitches.
  • I know that I like to stitch on 28 count – but never linen I HATE stitching on linen.
  • I have a very expensive pair of scissors that only ever cut cotton or silk threads and NOTHING else.
  • I have a favourite designer (Martine Weber) and have spent an absolute fortune on materials for some of her designs.
  • I never stitch in hand and have a wonderful collection of frames to suit any project – and I have my absolute favourite frame.
  • I use a Lowery Workstand (and have both corner and side clamps) I saved up for almost a year to get it – and I wouldn’t be without it (I also have a sit on frame for workshops although I am saving up for the Lowery table top stand)
  • I have friends who are specifically stitching friends and we drive for 2 or 3 hours to meet up.
  • I am a member of the Embroiders Guild.
  • I go on workshops and occasional weekend courses.
  • I won a cup at our village show this year

Do I think I will every achieve mastery as a stitcher?

I hope not.

I am a process person and love the challenge of either approaching something new or doing the old better and finding new ways to approach the same difficulties.

Take stitching over one – or rather don’t. I love the effect but it can be so tedious, fiddly and slow. Try tent stitch to achieve the same delicate effect in a fraction of the time. It might not work – but then again it might.

I love my hobby and everything about it. Our relationship isn’t perfect sometimes we fall out, sometimes I sulk and wont stitch for weeks – but most of the time our relationship is one of mutual respect and love and I would hate to ruin it by assuming mastery over it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stitch Debt

There is a popular concept these days called Sleep debt. "Sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A large sleep debt, for example, would suggest that a person is mentally or physically fatigued due to insufficient sleep" Wikipedia.

As I was lying awake last night tossing and turning I realised that perhaps I'm suffering from Stitch Debt.

Earlier this year I lost my stitching mojo and for about 9 months the only stitching I did was on a RR. Thanks to Colly (my bestest stitching friend) my stitching mojo came back and has been slowly gaining momentum.

Yesterday I decided to dust off a large WIP. Alpine Garden was regulated to the craft cupboard at the start of the year - now it's in the frame on the stand and yesterday I spend 5 hours happily stitching (this is how it came out of the cupboard).



So why stitch debt?

I am completely obsessed by this piece - it was the last thing I thought of before I went to bed and it was the first thing I thought of this morning. When I slept it featured in my dreams. I am irritated because I have to go out this evening and wont be able to stitch on it. In fact I'm horrified to realised that it will be Saturday afternoon before I can next sit down and pick up the needle.

"A large sleep debt, for example, would suggest that a person is mentally or physically fatigued due to insufficient sleep."

Well I believe that my large stitch debt, caused by not doing any significant stitching for 9 months has resulted in my becoming obsessed with this piece.

However, unlike sleep debt which can cause health problems the only difficulties I can see with stitch debt is that the house will remain untidy, the cloths unwashed, the cupboards bare and tummies empty.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Finished

I've had a weekend of finishing niggling little chores:

Finished mending my bosses polo neck jumper - ended up reknitting the polo bit - been procrastinating for weeks/months still that's done now.

Finished audio typing something for a friend - it's taken ages and once again I was procrastinating.

Finished avoiding starting my needleroll for the exchange and stitched almost all of it - got to get some threads to finish a tiny bit - but done all I can for the moment.

Finished the second sock for my SIL - just needs blocking and then I'll post them when the postal strike is over.

Finished about 6 loads of laundry.

Finished eating the apple cake I made yesterday.

Finished making another apple cake for my friend.

Phew I'm exhausted but it sure does feel good.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Knitting Socks

I like to knit socks.

I knit my first sock a couple of years ago - it took a long time............I never knit the second sock but I learnt a lot.



The next pair I knit for my DS but by the time I'd finished the second sock they no longer fitted him I wear them now.



Then I was on a roll and managed to knit a pair in about six weeks for me - they are lovely and I wear them all the time (except when they're stinky and waiting to go in the wash!!!!)



Then another disaster I decided to knit a pair of jaywalker socks. Now although these weren't my first pair of socks I made some real errors on the heel flap and only knit half of the required number of rows before picking up the stitches. Then for some reason when I was doing the second sock I did the kitchener stitch the wrong way round



As if that wasn't enough my gauge was well off and they are so narrow it's ridiculous - I suppose I should just rip them out.........................

Not to be deterred my next pair of socks (well the second one isn't done yet) are in Alpaca Hummingbird - they will be perfect to keep my feet warm when I'm camping. I wanted them for this August but I got distracted (with the BSJ) but they will be perfect for the next camping trip.



On the needles at the moment is yet another pair of socks using my favourite pattern and yarn - both from Opal.


These are a gift for my SIL. I'm down with the lurgy at the moment so I'm off to finish them now.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Needlework Tin


A few years ago as I wandered through M&S I saw a beautiful tin.

It was a beautiful shade of blue/green, the lid had delicate japanese style blossoms at each end and the sides of the tin was covered with cream polka dots.

It wasn't large about 10 inches by 4 inches and 2 inches deep.

According to the label the tin held a luxury belgium biscuit assortment. I noticed how lovely it was and walked on by. I kept thinking about this tin for a couple of days and eventually went back and spent about £4 on a tin of biscuits. Although the biscuits were lovely I wasn't interested in them at all. The tin however, has remained by my side.

It is the perfect size for the notions that as needleworkers we collect and even use from time to time. When I am in my stitching nest it is to my right on a shelf just below the level of my chair so within perfect reach.



The lid is upturned and really useful for pens, pencils a highlighter and things currently being used. The main tin has in it most of my odds and ends that I might use during my stitching. Out of curiosity I have taken everything out and photographed them...............



OK so there's some odd looking things in there - do you know what they are all for?

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm not worthy.......

"Brenda has added you as a friend!"

That's Brenda....... as in Brenda Dayne....... as in Cast On.

Is it wrong that I am SO excited to find this in my Ravelry inbox today....................

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today (Sunday) I've been spinning.

Each New Year I make one resolution. I resolve to either learn a new craft or to learn something new about one I already do or join a Guild or maybe choose a big project and make that the focus for the year (just wait until you see 2008s project!!!!!)

In 2005 I decided I wanted to learn bobbin lace - that was a challenging one so I carried it over to 2006...........more on bobbin lace another day.

Last year almost by accident I began to knit more and more. I learnt how to knit socks, discovered Podcasts (All hail the mighty Brenda), laughed and cried with the Yarn Harlot and wondered at the genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Now as many knitters have discovered although the access on the internet to fantastic yarns is compelling as we tackle more and more innovative projects our tastes become more and more specific. For example I want to knit a Forest Canopy Shawl in sage green. Not any shade of sage green but a particular shade that I can see in my minds eye. Once a knitter becomes that focussed on the yarn I believe there is only one thing for it........................learn to spin.

My 2007 New Years resolution was to learn to spin!!!!

There are no classes near me so I began by reading everything I could. I started stalking wheels on ebay hoping for one within my budget. I sent off for a beginners spindle spinning kit and had a go.

Then I found it - an Ashford Traveller on ebay. The price was promising and it was collection only (about 20 miles away). I bought her home and had no idea what to do next. Slowly over the next few weeks I lovingly cleaned her (she had been sat in a garage for goodness knows how long and was a sorry state) I replaced hooks, springs and tied a threader to her. I spent 4 hours cutting and unravelling horribly greasy, dirty fleece that was trapped around the centre of the wheel and then a further two getting same fleece off the bobbins. Finally she was clean and tidy. I sat practising treadling getting to know her, listening to the slight creak which I couldn't cure.



In June I went to Woolfest. By this time I'd had Lizzie for a couple of months and hadn't spun anything. At Woolfest I walked around watching people spin, asking questions and buying roving (and yes I did buy a whole fleece - well you have to don't you).

Since then I've spent several hours with Lizzie. She's been patient as I've fumbled threading a leader through the orifice. As the yarn repeatedly broke off the bobbin she sat and waited while I worked out what I was doing wrong. In return I listened to her teachings.

We've got a long way to go Lizzie and I. Today we took this:



and after a couple of hours we had this......................



I wonder if Lizzie knows how to ply?

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm in............



My invite arrived yesterday (so no Thursday blog) two days after Franklin Habit.....and I'm thrilled.......so far it's exceeding expectations. Go and see for yourself at Ravelry.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Any day now...............

You signed up on July 2, 2007
You are #12040 on the list.
227 people are ahead of you in line.
19926 people are behind you in line.
36% of the list has been invited so far


OMG - I just know my invite is going to arrive say on Friday - I have a tutorial all day Saturday and wont be able to do a thing.............but at least I'll be in.

What do you mean you don't know what I'm talking about - take a look here https://www.ravelry.com/account/login

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Then & Now

Then

In 1999 I decided I wanted to do a millennium project. Although I’d been stitching since I was about nine this was when I became a Stitcher.

I went into town to a large department store chose a sampler bought a flimsy frame went home and made a start using the needle and pre cut floss that came with it using the kitchen scissors to cut the thread. Sitting at home in the lounge I plodded on keeping the project in a carrier bag at the side of the sofa.

Now

In 2007 I decided I wanted to start a significant project but wasn’t sure what. I logged on to my favourite stitching forum and browsed the posts in the finished projects section. I looked at peoples wish lists to see what they were stitching.

I then went and googled some specific designers name to see if they had anything new.

I went downstairs to the lounge opened up the dresser and rummaged around the numerous frames to find out if I had one large enough for the project I had in mind.

Then I took the materials list over to the basket at my stitching nest and looked through several floss boxes to find out what I didn’t have.

Then I drove to town to a lovely needlework shop for a chat and to get whatever materials I could from there. Back home I went internet shopping to get everything else.

I wound new floss onto bobbins as it arrived and prepared the fabric. I logged on to check for any known errors in the pattern. Fixed the fabric into my freedom frame and popped the frame onto the Lowery Stand. Picking up my Gingher scissors I cut an appropriate length of floss threaded my platinum needle and placed the first stitch.

As I stitched I listened to my favourite podcasts and updated my online friends as to the progress I was making.

I love my hobby!!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Would you ever stitch one of your BAPs a second time? (This does not include starting over because of mistakes, bad fabric, etc., rather than stitching something from the first stitch for a second time.)


Probably not.

There are a couple of pieces where I have enjoyed every stitch. They have been a real pleasure to work on. For some reason everything has gone right - the fabric has a lovely feel to it and is nice to work with. Some of the stitches are a challenge to begin with but then once the pattern begins to flow a meditative quality takes over. There has been no frogging and no fudging. I've stayed focussed and finished the project in a timescale appropriate to its size (large). When framed it fulfils all my expectations.

However, despite this pleasure I can't imagine ever stitching them again. I believe that the pleasure I experienced was appropriate to a moment in time and place. For example by the time I finished one BAP I'd moved house (twice) changed my job and experienced serveral other life enhancing moments - it only took just over a year.

I should imagine it's a little like revisiting a childhood haunt or meeting up with an old flame - somethings really should stay in the memory.

Disclaimer - this doesn't apply to knitting - I am an addicted sock knitter (not a BAP? Do you know how many stitches are in just one sock!!!!) - the same pattern and the same yarn. I've just finished a BSJ and experienced all of the above and can't wait to cast on another one - anyone expecting a baby?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hardanger

I love Hardanger. I won a cup at the village show in July with a piece of Hardanger. I've another piece almost finished - just a few beads to add. Then there's is a wonderful tablecloth I'm working on (it's huge) I may be some time.

Finding good Hardanger designs can be tricky - there's Nordic Needle but they have so much choice it can be intimidating. Other designers may have a couple of pieces in their portfolio but finding them can be challenging.

Imagine my delight when I discovered www.ColsCreations.co.uk. A wonderful collection of designs from a very talented lady. Simple and effective I think there is something for everyone. If you want to give a Hardanger a go but don't want to commit to a huge project then try a candle wrap. And what about that Wedding Pillow - I wish somebody I know was getting married cos it is just fab.

My clicky finger is twitching and I think I may just be popping some Hardanger in my basket very soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Holiday Projects

After two weeks of camping in the rain and the mud that was the south of England during August I am back home. It is so nice to be warm and dry.

For my trip I packed the following projects:

1. Baby Surprise Jacket, Elizabeth Zimmerman - Knitting
2. Tenth Anniversary Design - Elizabethan Sweete Bag, Chatelaine Designs - Needlework
3. Pretty in Pink - can't remember by whom - Needlework
4. Forever Loved - Carol Tinson - Needlework
5. Ongoing Socks - Knitting

During my trip I managed to make progress on the Baby Surprise Jacket and rip out all of the Baby Surprise Jacket and cast on the Baby Surprise Jacket and make the same amount of progress again!!!!

I was pootling along very nicely, getting into the rhythm of the project, when your fingers know what they're doing and your mind relaxes. Well there I was sat on the beach in North Devon, watching the crowds huddled under blankets. As I watched I realised something. Out of all the people I could see (probably 50+) not one of them was actually doing anything. Sure they were sat, some were sleeping and most were chatting. I couldn't see anybody reading and certainly nobody else knitting!!!

As I sat contemplating the magic that is the BSJ I realised there was something fundamentally wrong with my knitting. In my puzzlement I forgot to take a picture of the problem - but for those of you that have knit a BSJ lets just say my decreases were heading off in the same direction. Now I know the BSJ looks a little odd..........but not this odd. I worked out what I'd done so I wouldn't do it again and out it came.

However, this wasn't a problem I was enjoying knitting it so much and if I hadn't tinked I would have finished it before the end of the holiday and had to pick something else up.

It's the first time I have ripped back a project and reknit it - I think I may finally be a Knitter (I've been knitting since I was 9 - that's almost 30 years!!).

Time to cast off - pictures soon!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

On Holiday



Back soon....................

Aion - a tribute


A couple of years ago when I was bored at work and googling stitching I found a website that has been a wonderful companion ever since.

Aion, an ezboard chat forum has been a wonderful part of the online stitching community for a number of years. A couple of years ago I would be logged on all day, keeping a window open on my desktop at work so I could flip over to check new messages throughout the day - and there were a lot of messages during the day.

I learnt a lot, laughed a lot, cried a little and was in awe at the talented stitchers I was 'chatting' with.

There were meet ups - once or twice a year Aioners made a pilgrimage to Nuneaton (UK) and spent a day meeting each other in person. I will never cease to be amazed that at such get togethers it is like meeting old friends.

I have made some wonderful friends through Aion, friends who I know will be there in the good and the bad times. Friends who I will drive 3 or 4 hours to spend four or five hours chatting and stitching with and then drive 3 or 4 hours home. Friends who come and stay in my house when I go on holiday, friends who I love dearly. Friends who fly from half way around the world and coordinate their holidays just so they can attend a meet up.

So why am indulging in this nostalgia.

On Saturday August the 18th 2007 Aion will be closing.

We have been blessed that throughout this time a wonderful lady called Chris has looked after the forum. There are many of us who cannot express our thanks to Chris strongly enough - words do not do justice to how we feel about the contribution Aion has made to our lives.

Many of us have found a new place to hang out (see link to the right) but I know for me and many others Aion will always hold a special place in my heart.

Anyone fancy a crafty natter........

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week


Do you consider yourself a “floss miser?”

Absolutely. It started when I began stitching with silks. The cost and the fact that I couldn't just pop to the shops to buy more meant I was careful - stitching to the last possible stitch and saving what could be used in the future.

Once I got in the habit it's kind of stuck. I'm always shocked now when I see people 'wasting' floss. People who have large ort jars full of large lengths of floss - you know who you are. I tried it when I got back from my friends house last week and I felt so naughty!!!!

Gosh if that's what makes me naughty I must lead a very staid life. I'm going to cut some floss and throw it away.................maybe.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ravelry - are you in yet?

In case you're interested:

You signed up on July 2, 2007
You are #12040 on the list.
4192 people are ahead of you in line.
10848 people are behind you in line.
33% of the list has been invited so far

Maybe when I get back from holiday at the end of August I will be in - fingers crossed.

See you there........................

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Round Robins

Over the years I have watched the progress of many Round Robins (RR) on various internet chat forums. I have always resisted the temptation to join in because I'm not a very good obligation stitcher.

As I work full time as well as being a wife and mother and doing diploma course in antenatal education I have very limited stitching time. I enjoy doing quite complicated pieces with a good mixture of speciality stitches, beading, drawn thread work etc. This doesn't make for quick stitching so my happy dances are few and far between.

However, in October last year a very good friend of mine asked me to take part in a RR she was organising on Aion (internet chat forum closing August 2007). There was a particularly lovely piece I had seen someone else do as a RR piece that I really wanted to stitch so I took part.

For eight months I only had time to stitch on the RR and all my own stitching had to sit in the UFO pile. I lost my stitching mojo. Stopped planning new projects. Didn't buy any stash. Didn't dream in embroidery.

It was completely worth it, I have the most wonderful piece of stitching that will forever remind me not only of some wonderful friends but of one of the best forums around. I made it into a cushion to sit on the rocking chair in my lounge.



There were eight of us taking part and every piece was lovely to work on. I entered my cushion into our village show on behalf of the Aion Girls ...........we came second (see previous post for details of the winning entry!)

An excellent result - but will I ever do a RR again?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Have you ever thought of getting a rider on your household insurance to properly cover your stash (some of us have quite an extensive stash that an average household policy wouldn't fully cover) in the case of some sort of damage to your house that would destroy/ruin charts, fabrics, floss, etc?


No - but then I only got around to getting household insurance a few months ago. I just crossed my fingers and toes for 20 years!!!!!

I don't hold that much stash - or at least I didn't think I did until I began to consider this question. I mean it's not in the thousands - but if you include my lowery workstand, daylight lamp, numerous frames, not to mention a huge selection of specialist silks and beads I suppose it adds up.

Mmmmmm maybe I should ask my insurers the question - just to be on the safe side.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I won a Cup

Yesterday was our annual village show. Think WI Tea Tents, dog shows, beautiful baby competition, lots of flower exhibits, best vegetable displays and of course the embroidery class.

I entered three pieces - one of which not only came first in its class but also won a cup for the best handicraft exhibit:



The piece is called Mother Earth and is a design by Polstitches. It was one of those pieces where every stitch is a pleasure. It didn't take too long to do and the colours are my favourite. It was my first real attempt at hardanger so I'm very proud of result - although I know now that it would be much neater and the kloster blocks more even.

There were some beautiful pieces of work being shown so I feel really honoured that the judges thought my pieces was good enough to win.

Now what shall I work on for the show next year?