I'm was on a bit of a roll with shawls this winter. It is, at the moment, my favourite thing to knit. This one was a birthday gift for a dear friend who is in the process of relocating to Canberra. I wanted this one to be soft and warm; a little bit lacy, but not enough to let the chill through. I found a Bendigo Woollen Mills Alpaca blend that is very soft but as warm as toast.
The project I took to England to keep me occupied once I finished the Estense bag, was another Zenbroidery. This one is larger than the ones I have done previously - a rectangle roughly 30 cm x45 cm.
Unlike the previous one, this design is not conducive to complete coverage. The white space between the flowers and leaves needs to remain as part of the design.
Once again, I am using a pack of perle 5 thread in bright colours and making it up as I go along.
While in the hoop progress seems fast, it is useful to keep viewing it in the context of the whole!
Nevertheless, it's a lot of fun and most satisfying to just pick up, decide on a colour and a stitch and have a go. The fact that it is made up of small components provides a sense of completion in a stitching session.
I also learn a lot about colour combinations just by playing.
I'd doing this between other projects - it's very satisfying, heaps of fun and unpressured.
Given the success of my Pearls cases, I dug out a counted thread kit I had bought in 2010. It was a counted thread bag on 36 thread count hand-dyed linen, using silk threads and lined in silk. It was from The Gift of Stitching, a digital magazine that closed in 2012.
I thought this might make another bag for storing pearls.
I had been entranced by this bargello pattern and began to stitch it in 2010, but didn't get far. I started to drift off pattern and found, even then, 36 threads per inch difficult to see.
In the intervening 8 years, I have learnt enough to know the necessity of marking up the fabric with tacking thread around the design framework, so I put on my magnifying glass and outlined the design areas with four thread tacking.
At this point I took the piece to the Embroiderers' Guild and talked to a tutor about the best way to tension it. The tutor asked me why I was putting myself through the stress of a counted thread work on such fine, dark coloured linen. "Play to your strength!" she said, "I couldn't see to count that - work it in surface stitchery!".
It had never occurred to me to change the design. I can't believe I had been so fixed in my thinking. I suddenly had permission to move away from counted-thread work. I went straight home to my new book - a Japanese take on Scandinavian designs.
Using the framework outlined by my tacking, I embroidered a line of birds along the top panel.
In the lower panels I added a series of motifs from Zakka.
Three of the four panels involved peacocks.
Zakka uses either one or two colours of thread. I stayed with this protocol, but given the silk threads in the pack are variegated, it was a bit of a cheat.
I used the gold silk supplied as lining, backing the linen and constructing the bag as one piece.
I stitched a cord channel through the two layers and an edge between each side of the bag.
I made a twisted cord to thread through the channel, but once made it deserved to be outside, so I added loops.
I've decided to use this to store my turquoise jewellery.
It isn't the bargello bag - but has its own charm. It's completion is another testimony to the benefit of belonging to a Guild!
The second shawl in my 2018 shawl binge was a feather and fan triangle from a ball of lovely variegated 2 ply I bought a few years ago in New York from a place called Knitty City in the Upper West Side. I saw a shawl in the window one evening and went back when the shop was open to buy the pattern and yarn. I made the shawl for a neighbour but had bought a spare ball. I wanted my neighbour's shawl to be unique, so I've repeated the pattern with different yarn. The spare ball has been waiting for me to find a new pattern for it.
I settled on a feather and fan which worked well. I simply kept knitting until the yarn was used up.
Then I blocked the shawl on the largest towel I could find - my stripy beach towel.
It blocked beautifully - and yes, passes the wedding ring test!
One of my granddaughters says it is a veil for a Gay wedding!
I haven't yet found the recipient for it - but I know that will become clear - the secret name of the rightful owner will be revealed one day!
Predictably, the first step in the project is to tack all the boundaries of the work in colour-coded machine thread - three threads under, three over. These provide the boundaries for the various panels required to complete the project for assessment. It took me a couple of weeks of whenever-I-could stitching to complete this task - and a bit of unpicking. You know, of course, if you have it wrong, as your edges and intersections do not work out.
There are three squares in the centre of the piece. These are to be worked in our own choice of three different pulled thread patterns or stitches. I chose mine from Danish Pulled Thread Embroidery a book I liked so much I sourced and bought my own copy.
These are far from perfect, but I don't plan to undo them. The diagonal line on the one on the left show where I started - then repeated a line when I picked up the other half.
I worked my first free-choice panel with a bargello stitch over 4 threads, with an off-set of two threads. I started with a stitch over 3 threads, but soon learned that working over three threads meant off-setting by 1 thread only, creating a very tight pattern and considerably more work. The 4 thread version looks bolder and neater.
As my second counted thread panel, I chose a design from Japanese Kogin.
My third is Swedish Sollerosom.
For my final counted thread panel I tried a pattern from Yvette Stanton's latest book, Smoyg: Pattern Darning from Norway. It is a simple motif - chosen because, at 21 threads wide, it fits my panel!
This post is a summary of many months work. I have averaged one panel each month on this project. There is no hurry - no pressure to do anything other than learn. It's a lot of fun researching and choosing the stitches.
Now I have to do the drawn thread panels and the numerous edging sections. This needs to wait until I get some help later this month!
I couldn't easily source the tiny seed beads that Christine used, so I compromised with slightly larger ones.
I was happy with the result. By now I had the hang of the counting and really enjoyed the stitching. I enjoyed the four-sided stitch so much that I used it to mark off the folds as well as the edge.
Construction was the same as for the original project, using some pink silk from my stash.
I deliberately made them slightly different sizes - to see how useful each proved to be.
I think these pouches do need a fastener, since I am planning to keep jewellery in them. I made a twisted cord from the perle threads I had used for the embroidery. I couldn't bear to discard any of the cord, so made one fastening very long.
I then tried out the pouches.
I'm delighted with this result. I have friends expressing interest in storing their pearls in this manner - so I am looking forward to making many more variations!