Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fabric, quilting, and knitting

Essex pullover - my current knitting project
Such a long time since I wrote anything on this blog. So much has happened over the past few months, but I won't bore you with any of it here. I am knitting, as usual and the photo above shows the current project, a cropped sleeve, fitted jumper with a fair-isle design around the picot edged sleeves, body and also the yoke. The mix of picot edged sleeves and body teamed with a fitted shape really intrigued me. So many of the jumpers and cardigans I have knitted over the years are rather shapeless. They are lovely to wear, and cosy, but it was time for a change. Not sure how this will work out, but this could be interesting.

The knitted body of my jumper
So far, I have completed the body, knitted in the round, up as far as the point at which the sleeves will be attached. The first sleeve has been started and I am in the process of knitting the fair-isle pattern. As you can see from the photo above, the picot edge to the body (and sleeves) is sewn after the whole jumper has been completed. I haven't done a picot edge in this way before, having knitted it into place in a previous project (a knitted bag). It will be interesting to see which of the two techniques I prefer.
Indigo dyeing
I was lucky enough to take part in an indigo dyeing session at a friends house a couple of weeks ago. These "flags" are my own pieces shown after washing. They are hanging in my friends garden on one of her trees. There were a number of us playing around with an indigo dye vat that morning. We were so lucky with the weather too. It can't be guaranteed that we get a bright sunny morning at this time of year, so we did give ourselves a backup plan, just in case we couldn't do any dyeing. Indigo dyeing really does have to be done outside. The pieces above are, from left to right - a tightly woven cotton, cotton lawn and two silk hankies. The first piece had been dyed after being folded into pleats and pinned using bulldog clips. The second was merely loosely pleated and knotted at intervals. The silk hankies were tie-dyed after being folded together and held in place using rubber bands. Great fun!

I'm not sure what I shall use these pieces for, but I really enjoyed the experience. I have also recently been experimenting with rust and tea dyeing.

Tea dyeing - the fabric was scrunched around the tea bags used.
Rust dyeing using tea.
Rust dyeing using a fruit tea wrapped around a scouring pad.
Last week I found myself having to replace the cover on my printing board. I shall be using the old cover since it just looks so interesting. Not sure what it will be used for, but I feel sure that I will find a use for it.
The under layer of my old print board cover.
The top layer - I just love the muddle of patterns
I am also quilting. The following photo shows the quilting in progress. This is a very simple pieced design made up of square blocks. The working title is "Spring Flowers" and uses some of Tracy Fox's gorgeous dyed fabrics.
Quilting in progress on "Spring Flowers"

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sewing and more stitching

November Journal Quilt - the last piece of the map.

December Journal Quilt - a repeat of the boot to finish off.

The last couple of weeks have seen me busily sewing. I have completed my Journal Quilts for this year and now you can finally see all twelve of the little quilts shown together as intended. The theme, as I have mentioned before was "Journeys", which I took from another group which has used this a their theme for the year - NWCQ. The Journal Quilts were a challenge from Contemporary Quilt - each little quilt is 8 inches square. The map pieces all show the area where I take my dog Ella for her walks each morning, which also explains the walking boots being part of the design. Ella loves going for rides in the car too, and sometimes we take her further afield for a walk, hence the car. The aeroplane celebrates a trip to Prague taking an exhibition of quilts across for the Patchwork meeting. This took place in April.
The materials used have been: silk sheets printed with photographs and designs of my own based on car tyres and the tread of the walking boots; dye catchers which have been accidentally dyed when used in my washing machine - I have quite a collection; my own printed and painted fabrics; sheer fabrics and the wristband I wore during the Prague exhibition; finally, free machine quilting, and some hand stitching. Some details have also been drawn onto the quilts using permanent marker and coloured pencils.

All twelve Journal Quilts shown together.

I also made a couple of little bags for friends. These were made from my stash of Liberty lawn fabrics and have a spring clip fastening. 

Small presents for friends.

The little bag linings.
I also got the December challenge for the Sky's the Limit group finished on time. For me, this year, it has been quite an achievement to get this posted and finished on time. I do intend to be less last minute in 2015. Wish me luck in this resolve.........

The December challenge for Sky's the Limit, was "Painted Face". So many different ideas went whizzing round my head, so that, in the end, I borrowed my younger daughters beautiful masquerade masks. I just love them.

The Scaramouche mask.

My own version was rather simplified using silk and satin scraps on a black linen background. The gold fabric has been bondawebbed in place since it was far too fragile to stitch in place. The rest of the fabric has been satin stitched. The background has been free machine quilted imitating the swirly patterns of the masks. Yes, I was very good and returned the masks quickly to their owner.

Skys the Limit December Challenge - Painted Face.

Monday, December 08, 2014

No knitting, but some sewing

It has been rather chilly outside today - with really wintry showers. The colours have been beautiful. These pictures were taken from just outside my kitchen.

The following photo shows the promised one of my newest jumper - the pattern is Tire Tracks. It is wonderfully cosy. I knitted a blue one for my husband a few weeks back. 

Tyre Tracks - my second jumper
There has been some sewing, but nothing has been finished and isn't quite in a state fit to photograph. Never mind, I shall show the photos next time. I have almost finished the November Journal Quilt which shows the final section of the map. The last piece, for December is almost ready to start. Sadly, the only other thing I have accomplished today is pinning the hems of my new curtains.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Sewing and knitting

September JQ - Ella
It has been quite a busy week. I managed to nearly get up to date with my journal quilts, finishing two of them. The third one, November is languishing on my workbench this evening since I have been so busy getting other things done today. I have promised myself that I shall get it stitched tomorrow. It is another section of the same map that I have been putting together over the past few months.
October JQ - another section of the map
It might seem daft to stitch a map in sections like this, but the intention is to get all twelve of the journal quilts put together in some way. I haven't quite decided how this will be achieved yet, but they will need to be held carefully together so that all the bits of the map link up. It shows the areas where I go walking with Ella.
Speaking of Ella, the September Journal Quilts was achieved by printing an outline drawing of Ella onto silk. The outline was taken from a photo which I took some time ago. The colouring in was done after the silk had been printed and left to dry. I used some colouring pencils, trying to keep as close as possible to the colours of the original photo. It would have been so much simpler to have merely used a photograph printed onto silk. I just wanted a different, matt, texture. The background was first painted and then stencilled before the image of Ella was appliquéd using bondaweb.

Sky's the Limit quilt for November - Hand Out / Handout
The last quilt completed this week was this one for the monthly Sky's the Limit group. The theme this time was "Hand out". For this I used a piece of fabric which I dyed some months ago and was not happy with. It had been lying in my "fabric to be used for printing" pile for some time and was perfect for this. I have written phrases in the style of a dictionary, putting together some of the meanings of "Handout" and "Hand out". Hence the title. The hand is an outline printed onto silk which has had the words "Handout" written repeatedly over it in permanent marker. This has been bondawebbed in place onto the background. The whole has then been free machine quilted with a hand design in variegated thread. This was simply achieved by drawing around both my hands, scanning this image into my computer, reducing it in size. This was then printed out and the resulting print used to trace the design repeatedly onto a thin tissue. I then stitched through this joining the hand images so that the whole was stitched continuously. Good fun!
Oh yes, I finished my jumper too. I've worn it as well. Very cosy and comfortable. I forgot to take a photo, so that will have to wait until another time.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A weekend in Harrogate

My collection of purchases
My husband and I were away from home last weekend, heading off to Harrogate for a few days. Harrogate is a really interesting place to visit, and we chose to go because not one, but two shows were on. I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show, whilst my husband headed off to the Woodworking and machine tools Show. We both had a great time.

Vintage patterns

Stencils, wooden blocks for printing, sheer fabrics and a mat for making lino prints.

Goodies found in a rummage box.
As you can see from the range of my purchases, I am planning to do more printing and dressmaking. The vintage patterns are an indulgence since I just love the style. I have been looking for a nice culottes pattern for some time, so was delighted to find this one.

I think I shall make the skirt too.

Almost two yards of Linen and Viscose mix fabric.
Going round the charity shops I found these two lengths of fabric. The linen/viscose mix will make a delightful blouse, whilst the other length will make a lovely summer dress.

Four and a half yards of light cotton batik.
The battered book you also see in the pile of purchases was found in a charity shop too,

I also indulged myself with the purchase of a light box. This will be so useful.

A light box!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Knitting and a textile book

Another jumper started.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. I have been involved with the Drama group once more. Not, this time, making costumes, but helping out with fast changes. With so much sitting around to do, I had to find a second knitting project since I quickly finished off the jumper shown last time.  I chose to do the same pattern again. So far I have completed the back and knitted the front to the stage between the casting off for the armhole shaping ant the casting off I shall need to do for the neck. My husband really likes the blue jumper, but hasn't worn it yet since it really has been a little too warm for a thick jumper. I hope he doesn't do his usual thing of putting it safely in the cupboard and only bringing it out "for best". This brown version will probably be for me since I could do with another really cosy jumper.

The completed "Music" book
I was also busy during the past week with completing a textile book. This has been going on for such a very long time. The group decided that last Friday was the deadline for completing these. So I got mine finished just in time.
As you can seen from the photo above, it is a concertina book. Each page is just 6 inches wide and 8 inches high. Most of the pages have been produced using an embroidery machine. Not surprising since the group is called the Machine Embroidery Group! I don't have such a machine and so all my pages were made using a mixture of appliqué and free machine embroidery onto my own dyed and printed fabrics.

Brenda's pages

Hilda's pages

Karen's pages

Marion's pages

Judy's pages

A third page from Judy and my explanation of the project.
Judy was very sweet and made three pages for me. This really worked well when putting the book together since I was able to add an explanation about the project onto a single page.

The covers
As you will notice, my front and back pages are free machine embroidered onto a piece of my own dyed fabric. I really wasn't happy with the intensity of the dye on this piece of fabric, but it worked perfectly for this project. It has been hanging around in my collection of fabrics for over dyeing or printing for a couple of years now.

The backing used for the pages showing the hinges.
The back of the book has been covered using my own dyed fabrics. I couldn't bear the thought of cutting these bits up, so having larger pieces like this to show the accidental patterns caused by the dyes was rather a lot of fun. Each of the pages is backed onto a stiff vilene using bondaweb. The hinges are simply dressmakers tape (used for strengthening seams in flimsy fabrics) which I inherited from my late mother-in-law. Each page is zigzagged to catch the tape and bind the edges.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Knitting and printing

The start of my husband's jumper.
The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of knitting - I finished a waistcoat and started a jumper for my husband.

The waistcoat.
The front of my husband's jumper showing the cable detail.

The jumper is Tire Trace by Agata Smektala. The pattern is a free Ravelry download and can be found here
The waistcoat can also be found on Ravelry here. It is by Meghan McFarlane and is an extremely quick knit having no seams at all.


I really enjoyed knitting this cosy waistcoat and am looking forward to wearing it.

We also travelled into Manchester and went on the Big Wheel. 
View of Manchester from one of the Big Wheel capsules.
The Big Wheel can be found in Piccadilly Gardens right in the centre of Manchester. Such an extraordinary experience being up so high and able to see for miles around. 

Fabric printed and stencilled.

There has also been some printing using some of the techniques taught by Gillian Travis during her workshop. Here you can see some photos of the fabrics I played around with. All have been painted with acrylic paints with some spraying and the use of stencils, thermofax screens and block prints.

This last piece may, or may not turn out to be something. I am rather late to submit it to Sky's the Limit for their November challenge - Townscape. The photos come from buildings I photographed whilst they were being demolished in the early 1970s. The brick shapes come from paintings I made around the same time.