Search This Blog

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cat’s paw prayer shawl

A month or so ago I set about knitting a shawl for a friend who is recovering from serious illness. I like the concept of prayer shawls and have knitted a number. I have several books of patterns, but for this one I sought a pattern elsewhere.

My friend loves cats. I looked therefore, for a pattern that involved cats in some way. After quite a bit of searching I found a cat's paw pattern through Ravelry. It was in a book of patterns for use with North Ronaldsay yarn. North Ronaldsay is the most northerly of the Orkney Islands. This book, by Elizabeth Lovick,  took me on another journey of discovery. I didn't have North Ronaldsay yarn but  I had some three-ply yarn I thought would work.

I ordered an e-copy of the book as I wanted to knit the shawl  immediately. The patterns were so beautiful I ordered  Elizabeth Lovick's other books!

This shawl knits from the point, from few to many stitches. The edging is added at the end. I like adding the edging - it is somehow satisfying to work it in stages.

It knitted up quite quickly and looked, as usual, pretty raggy.

It did, nevertheless, pass the wedding ring test!

I then blocked it on a towel on the carpet.

I love the way the pattern and gossamer effect emerges from the raggyness.

It is lovely and soft,  my friend liked it and I really enjoyed making it. In fact, it has got me going - I'm now on a bit of a shawl knitting binge!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wordsworth Sampler Finish

My Nicola Jarvis-designed Wordsworth sampler, begun in March at the Crewel Work Company retreat arrived in the mail on 18 May. Along with the work of other students, it had been on display at the Wordsworth Museum.

It went straight into my Lowery stand. I've been working on it every chance I get. It is not very portable, and needs good light, so not great for working at night.

I had completed most of the right hand bird and just enough of other elements to get the hang of the stitches, so set about completing the remaining elements of the bird - the tail feathers, eye and white wing,

before setting to work on leaves.

It comes to life with texture.

Next step was the cottage. I completed the walls, then the roof, the windows and the outline. This was wonderfully satisfying to stitch - texture really giving it life.

The passion flower was a bit of a challenge.  The flower part was OK, but the stamens and seed pods were not like any passion flower I have seen and I struggled to make them recognisable in the variegated thread.

Although the many daisies are a little tedious to stitch, I love the effect. The stitching blends perfectly with the fabric and lifts it ever so subtly.

Having worked my way around the sampler from right to left, I then stitched the left-hand bird. This time I worked the red breast in the intended more open lattice rather than the finer one I had worked on the right. Variation should be my middle name!

I'm not sure what it is about this design, but I loved doing it. Some embroidery is worth doing to learn new skill. This was just pleasure all the way!

I had been itching to try the lettering. I decided to go the whole hog and fill it in with split stitch rather than sticking to the outline. I thought this did justice to the heavy downstrokes and light upstrokes so beloved of cursive as I learned it.

While doing it, I contemplated how to deal with the background which I did not want to leave untouched.

I settled for lines of running stitch in the variegated blue thread of the bird's head - a bit of a Kantha technique to indicate sky.

I had considered a number of options for display. In the end, I went with my first instinct of a tray. I ordered a large memory tray from Australian Needle Arts. These are manufactured in the USA by Sudberry House and I have used one before - also for a Nicola Jarvis project!

I spent a bit of time thinking about how to mount it in the tray. I lashed the fabric over the mounting board and tried it for size.

I then settled for a mount of striped blue silk from my stash.

I cut strips along the stripes and attached them using double-sided tape, mitring the corners.

I was delighted with the result.

The tray has a backing that adheres.

It isn't easy to photograph it with the glass. No matter where I put it, it reflects. The stitching and texture, however, it quite visible.

I have devised a way for the tray to hang on the side of a marble-topped wash-stand in my living room. It is visible as soon as I open the front door. It hangs on an S hook that sits under the marble and hangs down the side. The tray is easily removed for use and replaced for display.

I'm very, very happy with this - it has been a joy from beginning to end. Thanks a million Nicola and my fellow retreaters!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Laptop bag from unfinished 1985ish knitting

Yesterday I sorted out the contents of the camphor wood chest I bought when my grandmother died in 1981. In it I had stored the remains of her meagre possessions - knitting needles, mending equipment and various things she had treasured or made. In 1993, when my mother died, I added a lot more knitting needles, threads and unfinished embroidery  - that is, the ones I didn't finish at the time.

Amongst the things of my mother's was the front of a jumper she had knitted in about 1985 for one of my daughters. I suspect she ran out of wool, or the recipient grew faster than she knitted. There was only one ball of each colour with it.  I thought of knitting sleeves and back in a plain colour but by the time I inherited it, it would not have fitted anyway. I reconsidered for my grandchildren, but it seemed too complicated.

Looking at it yesterday I had an idea. I cast off most of the stitches, leaving 10 on the needle and knitted a long strap. I considered an icord but decided on a strap. The needles broke, so I found others and continued.

I stitched the sides together, ignoring the fact that the top edge was narrower than the bottom, and attached the strap to the other side.

I then studied the manual for my front-loading washing machine and figured out how to create a hot wash. I bought this machine when I moved to my apartment and have never used anything other than the programmed cycles. I discovered I could create a cycle at 90C so set it for 2 hrs 15 minutes and put the bag in to felt.
When it came out it looked as if it might work for a a bag to hold a knitting project. It felted well - especially the patterned section which had layers of thread carried across the back.

 I set it aside to dry.

As I looked at it, I had another idea.

I got my laptop and placed it in the bag. I then pulled the bag into shape, pinned the top edges together and left it to dry overnight.

This morning I measured it, dashed off to Spotlight to buy a zip, came home and machined the zip in . By hand I stitched down the edges of the zip inside the bag and stitched the handle into a tube. Should have gone for the icord!

The handle is not perfectly centred. However, it works.  My laptop fits perfectly.

I feel elated with this outcome. I love using a lovely piece of knitting. I love making something useful and feeling I've done justice to my mother's effort and intention. It's strong, practical, durable, presentable and imperfect. A bit like the women who contributed to its existence.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Nicola Jarvis Bluebird: at last!

I have had the kit for this since it appeared in Înspirations Magazine Issue 82. In January I decided to take it on holidays with me and try to finish it.

It was a lot of fun - and interesting - to stitch.

For the purposes of stitching the bird is divided into sections - not surprising, really, but there were more sections than I had imagined, and I was surprised at how manageable it made it.

The tracing needed to be precise. Mine wasn't and I needed to correct it a couple of times.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of the shades of blue - and the effect one could achieve with them.

I found I worked best with five needles threaded up with the five different shades.

I can see these might become addictive - it's the texture, I think, that is so intriguing.

There is just a touch of bling - in the eye and a metallic thread.

I wanted to start another one as soon as I finished!

I had originally intended to make this into a bag. To this end I positioned it in one corner of the cotton. The original was suggested as a tray cloth, which I didn't need. When I had finished the embroidery, however, a bag of cream cotton with a single blue bird seemed a bit tame.

I decided to appliqué it to a denim shirt.

I tend to wear this shirt as a light jacket. I was a bit nervous cutting out the bird, but it worked well and fairly easily.

I like it so much I am considering purchasing more of Nicola's birds and appliquéing them all around the bottom of the shirt! Trouble is, they are not easily available in cotton thread on cotton.

Perhaps I'm just a glutton for punishment! It's not as if I have nothing else to stitch - I am currently focused on Nicola's Wordsworth Sampler from the Crewel Work Company Spring Retreat. Not to mention my knitting and zenbroidery....

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Celtic Knots and Cables: Kathryn Gunn

In late April I attended a class organised by the Embroiderers' Guild of SA on Celtic Knots and Cables. It is a venture into a slightly different stitching world to the one the Guild usually inhabits. I went along, partly for that reason, and partly because I like knitting cables and I was interested in learning a bit more.

Kathryn had prepared an enticing kit with notes, two balls of cream wool, embroidery thread and two prepared iCords. She also had a range of coloured wools for which we could swap our cream balls. I chose a blue.

We were also able to browse her selection of relevant books.

We began by looking at a range of knots, prepared by Kathryn, from simple to complex. We then used one of our iCords to make a fairly complex knot, following a diagram. It was moderately difficult but informative. The knots  have lots of potential for three dimensional embroidery.

We then got stuck into knitting cables. We were all keen to get knitting - perhaps,in retrospect, I might have benefitted from examining the cables before I plunged in. I ended with a much improved understanding - mostly from making mistakes!

The bag which was our sample project had 6 cables, all different.

I chose to knit in the round - a decision I'm pleased I made. I knitted the circle base on 5 double-pointed needles then changed to a circular needle and followed the cable pattern. This got me started, but didn't help me to understand the cables. It was only when I stopped following the chart and began following the row below that I was forced to work out how each cable was working.

Cleverly, the cables were designed mostly with a one-stitch cross-over, so they could be worked without a cable needle. It was a great way to demonstrate - by feel as well as diagram - how cables worked.

As well as the obvious contrast of left-over-right versus right-over-left cables, we saw the effect of adjacent single-stitch cables going both the same and opposite ways - also a three-stitch plait.

The designing of the cable exercise into a bag was especially clever - and pleasing to my practical soul. I finished the bag quite quickly at home. I also added a knitted handle.

Because I had chosen to change my cream wool for coloured, the iCord that Kathryn had so generously provided did not work with the bag, so I made another in the same wool. I chose to do this by French knitting (what my South Australian-born colleagues call Tomboy) rather than knitting.

It's a long time since I did French knitting, but it worked up quite quickly.

The resulting bag has errors in the cabling - but records my learning and is really useful for holding my current knitting project!

Thanks to the Kathryn, my fellow students and the Guild for the workshop.