Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A new workroom and some batik.

Work in progress - door installed, radiator to be moved.

Work in progress, showing my mirror fronted storage.

The window as it was.

An almost tidy workspace.

Yes, I can extend into the garden!
My workroom is now usable again. I just need curtains, but that can wait. You can see one of my storage units in the bottom of this collection of photos. These look like a series of boxes, but act as my bookshelves too. They are also on lockable castors, so can be moved around easily giving me extra worktop space!

Last week I was able to go to a batik workshop and made the following three pieces - all have only one colour this time, but I intend to overprint these at some stage. Two were made using soya wax and the first was using paraffin wax. I just wanted to see what the difference was.

Batik using paraffin wax.

Batik using soya wax.

Batik using soya wax and stretched across a frame.
I must admit that I preferred using the paraffin wax since I found it easier to use in the tjanting. The soya wax seems to be easier to iron out of the fabric. Each piece is waiting to be given a first wash before ironing again to remove more of the wax. I'll report back on how I get on.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Making a book and looking forward to changes.

MCAL in progress.
Over the past month I have been working steadily on my crochet piece. So far it is 30 inches long and almost 20 inches at the widest point. I am just about half way to completion, I think. This will make a useful shawl/wrap for chilly evenings around the house. It should also look quite nice on the back of one of the chairs. It started off as a Mystery Crochet-a-long, hence the "MCAL" in the photo caption. I will never gain any prizes for my crochet technique, but I am quite pleased with this and it is a really enjoyable alternative to knitting and is giving my achy elbow a much-needed rest.

I'm also busy with a textile book at present, but apart from letting you know it is being prepared for a show and tell display to take place in October, I really can't divulge more. Photos of the book will come after that meeting in mid October.

Apart from this, I have to start planning a move in my workroom. In a few days time I will be having a new door fitted and it will mean tidying my room and making space for workmen.................. eeeeeek! No matter, the resulting door will be well worth all the effort of sorting out my muddle of a room. But, if you are reading this, do wish me luck. My main concern for the moment is finding somewhere safe for my sewing machines to keep them away from the dust which is bound to invade my space. I can always wash my fabric collection. Special fabrics are already in boxes with fitted lids. I shall not bore you with more, but photos will be taken of the work in progress and also once it is all finished.

I nearly forgot. There has been a lot of sewing going on too. I managed to get the next four of my journal quilts uploaded in time, so I can now continue the project until the end of the year. Such a relief since I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get the stitching finished in time. The first of these you may have already seen.

May - a journey to Prague was the inspiration here. 

 The purple wristband is my identification tag from the Prague Patchwork Meeting in Prague which took place in April. The background is a print, on silk, of one of the tourist maps form our trip.

June - a continuation of the map sequence.

July - another of the sequence of maps.

August - walking with Ella. 

This piece shows my dog, Ella, wearing her doggie back pack on one of our walks. It holds her water bottles, treats and bowl in one pannier while the other holds a flask of coffee for me. The Blue Bridge carries a dual carriageway over the River Weaver. The paths beneath the bridge are a favourite with the local dogwalkers, joggers and cyclists. The river is busy too with a wealth of wildlife, wildflowers and trees along this length. It is a haunt for the local fishermen and women, canoeists, as well as the boaters who travel through.

The 12 journal quilts - work in progress.

This photograph shows a mockup of how most of the year's journal quilts will look. I need to start work on the September journal quilt, before completing the remaining two map sections. I am undecided about the last JQ. It will probably show some of the local trains. The background to September will show the river and boats. The main issue is, do I start work on September before sorting out my workroom, or do I wait until the dust has literally settled and my room is clean once more. Can anyone advise me?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Textiles, textures and knitted pieces.

"From Jacket to Wallhanging" by Jan Tillett.

This is my favourite acquisition from the Festival of Quilts this year. I was really very fortunate in being able to buy this amazing piece, since the pieces on sale were being sold so very quickly.
At Festival this year, there was a really interesting stand, "Unfinisheds". Do visit the site to see the wide range of pieces on offer. Just click the tabs stating "From the UK" and "From abroad". All were sold.
At the time I visited the stand, in between duties on the Contemporary Quilt stand, my eye was taken by this delightful piece by Jan Tillet. I just had to have it and paid for it straight away. Yes, a rash decision, but I was so afraid that if I walked away to think about it, the piece would have been sold by the time I got back. It now has pride of place in my workroom. It speaks to my fascination with colour and texture. I just love it.

Crochet challenge work in progress.
From the beautiful work of Jan Tillett to a work in progress. This is a piece of crochet. This is something I very rarely do. I think the last piece of crochet I completed was a shawl made almost thirty years ago.
This particular piece is the result of a Mystery Crochet-a-long organised by Valerie Bracegirdle on her Ravelry group. I'm really enjoying it so far.
Liz's skirt.
This was another recent project - a skirt for my elder daughter. The skirt was a purchased one which was both too big and also rather too transparent. This is the finished skirt after I had rebuilt the waistband having gathered the too full skirt slightly to fit. The skirt now has the full lining it originally needed.

Another knitting project.
This project is languishing for the moment since I have been busily stitching the next piece.

"Summer Blues" - in progress.

This next piece is a challenge for the Sky's the Limit group. The theme this month was "Blues". I found myself playing around with some free machine quilting stitch patterns ready to quilt a top I have ready for a waistcoat I am also working on. I got carried away and ended up with a piece which I felt fulfilled the challenge topic for the Sky's the Limit group. I added bits and pieces from my stash and collection of stitched items. The piece was a lot of fun to make.
"Summer Blues".

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Knitting and some sewing too.

Long sleeved cardigan under way.
The past couple of weeks has seen a lot of knitting alongside a little sewing and preparation for more sewing. I have been concentrating on getting this long sleeved cardigan finished and also starting a pair of trousers. However, I seem to have been getting all sorts of things wrong. I have completed the whole of the large sections - back, fronts and both sleeves - only to have to rip back the left front since I missed out two rows of the first zigzag pattern. This may seem fussy, but it will irritate me when I wear this cardigan, so I really must sort that out now before finishing it. At present I am nearing the section of the right front where I shall be decreasing ready for the collar shaping. Hopefully I shall finish this in the next day or two and then I can rip back the left front and do the same corrections to that. The photo shows the pieces of the cardigan as I completed the second sleeve. If you look at the top left of the photo you will see one of the front pieces. It clearly shows the first zigzag pattern. The section just below the purl rows is the bit which is wrong. There should be a line of five holes at this point and not four. An irritating mistake to make especially since I got it right on the back. Definitely a case of more haste and less speed.........

The trousers are now nearing completion and I will post a photo once they have been hemmed and are ready to wear. At present they are waiting for me to get around to sewing the long side and inside leg seams. So not much more to do. The fabric is a linen/cotton blend and I am really looking forward to being able to wear them. It is a pattern I have used before. Sadly, last time I got the sizing wrong and they turned out a little too large. This time I have used a smaller size. The pattern is KwikSew 3363. a simple pair of straight leg trousers. As you see from the photos these should go nicely with the long sleeved cardigan I am also making.

I have been reading The Colette Sewing Handbook and have taken on board some of the advice, most notably the second chapter which is entitled "A thoughtful plan" and details ways to dress for yourself and your shape. This might all sound very obvious, but the advice is timely for me since I really hadn't grasped these ideas before having them spelt out for me in this book.

The second item I have prepared for sewing is the Meringue skirt from the same book. I am really not sure about the scalloped edge of the original and also the short length so will probably be modifying this with an underskirt to make a feature of the scalloped edge without having it as the hemline. It also doesn't have pockets which is something I do prefer any skirt I make for myself to have. I may end up adding these to the front since it is a very plain straight skirt otherwise.

Monday, July 07, 2014

iPhone pockets and knitting, preparing for sewing too.

Stormy skies
The skies aren't quite so dark as this outside at the moment, but this was the scene from the back garden a few days back, just before a thunderstorm. The colours were amazing. At the moment the skies are dark and it is raining again. The garden does need the water, and it gives me the time to get on with things inside rather than feeling I should be out doing some gardening.
Weights for my next session with a dress pattern.
Yes, it might seem odd having these heavy washers in my sewing room. I was reading the Coletterie blog, and noticed how washers were used to weight down dressmaking patterns rather than using pins. I decided that the next time I was in a builders merchants I would get some for myself. So yesterday I picked up two packs of these. They were the heaviest on the rack and cost just £2.14. It will be interesting to see how I get on with these.
iPhone pockets.
Yesterday my elder daughter took collection of five iPhone pockets which I had been making for her. These have been around my workroom for the past few weeks and I had forgotten to post about them. Liz had seen two previous little bags I had made for myself, and noticed that they would be perfect for carrying her iPhone around at work. I let her have the one already completed and let her persuade me to make some more. Three of these have closures while the remainder are just left open at the top.
More iPhone pockets.
You might recognise the fabric used in two of the pockets shown above. I was printing these not so long ago.
Reverse of the brown and silver pocket,
My long sleeved cardigan under way.
The back of my longsleeved cardigan is now complete and I have started the left front.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Making a miniature quilt

The Quilt blocks part way through assembling the quilt.
I've been having a little fun making something very simple for a change. This is a foundation pieced Miniature Whirlwind Quilt. I had decided to have a bit of a break from my lengthy list of projects, and make something where the design was already set. The result is this set of sixteen pieced blocks. I shall quilt these very simply and add sashing and a border.
The completed 12" square centre.
The design comes from You will find the design here. There are a number of other quilt designs to choose from. The prompt to make something like this came form an online group, one of the My Sewing Circle forums which was starting a quiltalong. I just couldn't get my head around any of the projects I really should have been getting on with, so decided to have a go. I really didn't fancy making a twelve inch square block, so looked around for a design for a miniature quilt which would end up being 12 inches square. This little quilt when finished will probably turn into a cushion cover. I have plenty of these fabrics left over to make another three cushions. Perhaps by the end of doing these my piecing may have improved.
My finished edge to edge cardie, or waistcoat.
During the past week I finished off my waistcoat. I haven't worn it yet since it has been rather too warm. However, it is really nice and I am looking forward to wearing it later in the year. first posted about this project here.

The next project a cardigan.
My new project is just about ready to be started. Pink is really not my colour and so my version is going to be a pale green. As you might have noticed, this project is also in the same booklet as the edge to edge cardigan above. It is unusual for me to knit more than one project from a book, but this will be my third.
The first project and the book itself were written about here. The completed first cardigan was shown here.
I haven't knitted so much in months.

Now that the knitted elements of my wardrobe are under way I really ought to start getting some clothing sewn. As you can see, I have already bought the fabric. From the top here is some wadding, two patterned fabrics - a soft cotton destined for blouses and some blue chambray which is going to become a new skirt. The bottom fabric is a soft poly-cotton fabric which will become the skirt lining. All these fabrics, apart from the wadding has now been laundered and is awaiting a final ironing before I can start cutting out and sewing. I am hoping that it won't be too long before I can get started.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Batik workshop

Batik using red tissue paper
I was really lucky yesterday to take part in a batik workshop with the Textile without Limits group. This was a technique which I had always wanted to try, but never had the chance to do so. Our tutor was Nawal Gebreel. She was lovely, encouraging and also good with advice at each stage. We started off learning the basic techniques on tissue paper and also some thin white drawing paper.
Batik on paper
It was really interesting scribbling using a tjanting. Some tools were really good, with a manageable flow. Others just let the hot wax through rather too quickly for my novice attempts. It was such fun, using dyes and bleach as a resist. You can see the effect of the bleach on the red tissue paper - the bleach caused the pale patches with the wax resisting the bleach and leaving the red lines.
Batik - three colours
Lastly, in the afternoon we were allowed to use fabric. Nawaal had brought the fabric along for us to use. It had been previously treated with soda so that the dye will be permanent. We were using procian dyes. The fabric was stretched onto a frame, and pinned ready to use. I started off with the tjanting, drawing poppy seed head shapes which I had originally drawn when I took part in the Shelley Rhodes workshop in March.

Batik - closeup.
In searching my blog posts I see that I never got around to writing about the Shelley Rhodes workshop. Oops! Now that workshop was really interesting. Basically a drawing exercise, we got to use a wide range of materials, drawing on fabric and also paper. Stitching paper and fabric together, cutting and piecing the drawings we made too. It was completely out of my personal comfort zone, but I learnt such a lot about using different media when drawing and to not be afraid of rearranging a drawing which I am not totally happy with. The piece of work from this first workshop is shown below. It is still unfinished and I do pick it up from time to time to look at and consider working on. However, the drawings were perfect for using in the batik workshop. I had also brought along one of the dried poppy seed heads which I had used back in March, which allowed me to draw the full seed head as well as the details.
The work in progress from the Shelley Rhodes workshop/

A close up.
I shall be removing the wax from my batik later today. It will be really interesting to see how the piece looks once the wax has been removed. I used three colours in all. The first was a pale yellow, I then added more wax once the yellow dye had dried, adding more details and some poppy seeds. This was covered with the same yellow dye to which I had added a small amount of red to make orange. After the orange dye had dried, I added a lot of wax to cover some areas I wished to keep free of the final colour. With some advice from Nawaal, I added a bright red as the final colour. I decided part way through adding the dye, not to colour in the two circles which is why they look slightly odd at the moment.
I really enjoyed my day yesterday, and was so pleased to have been able to use elements of the work done in the previous workshop. Thanks Shelley and Nawaal.