Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2011

Travel Project- another Duftin bag finished.

I have been in Bali for the last two weeks on holiday. I took another of the Duftin cross-stitch bag kits I ordered from Hungary with me - easy to do on the plane and by the pool. The threads are pre-cut, the pattern printed so I don't need to continually refer to a pattern.

I chose the Paradise Bird taking nectar from flowers - appropriate for Bali, where we stayed with friends in their villa with a beautiful garden. This one is stitched and backed in black.

I began the project on the plane to Bali and by the time we arrived I had a good start.I took 4 other projects - just in case I ran out of things to do! I did do a few hours on one of them - another story.

It was great to sit by the pool and stitch away, when I wasn't reading or swimming.

The work progressed steadily. It has a lovely sweeping flow to it.

I finished it the day before we returned home and am very pleased with the result, dappled here by the shade of the frangipanni trees.

Shall I give this as a gift or keep it to remind me of those two relaxing weeks with friends in Bali?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Knitting Needle Roll.

I recently bought a set of bamboo knitting needles as a gift. Last year I bought myself two sets of bamboo double pointed needles in sets of 5, one the usual size and one short - only 13cm long - for knitting small things. I bought them online from Hong Kong and I like them a lot.

The current gift set came from DinoDirect.The needles are 36cm long. I am not sure how good the 2.0mm needle will be in bamboo, but the other 13 pairs of needles will be fine.

I then set about making a knitting needle roll to keep them in, selecting a piece of fabric I bought in Bangkok in 2001. The fabric is meant for a long Thai skirt and top. It has two pieces, one with a brocaded border, the other a matching plain. I will never make it up to wear and I thought it would look great in a needle roll and perhaps later, a knitting bag as well.

One of the attractive things about this fabric, is that it has a stripe - easy for measuring and cutting, and about the right width for a pair of knitting needles!

I cut it to fit 15 pair of needles in width, and tall enough to fold inside at top and bottom to form a flap.

I cut lining from the plain fabric and used synthetic quilting backing between the layers.

I quilted it down the lines of the main fabric, and also put an elastic strip across the middle inside so the needles will be held down firmly.

This is the finished result on the inside, while the outside is very neat when rolled.

While ties work quite well on needle rolls, I got inventive and made a casing for two elastic rings that I attached at one edge. They stretch over the ends and hold it closed.

I finished the cased elastic with a bright non-functioning button.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cosy Needlework Crime - Monica Ferris

Another way I relax is reading crime fiction and in recent years I have sought out crime fiction set in needlework or knitting communities. One of my favourites is Monica Ferris's series set in Betsy Davenshire's Crewel World needlework shop in Minnesota.

Monica Ferris is a pseudonym of Mary Monica Pulver, who also writes as Margaret Frazer, Mary Pulver Kuhfeld and Margaret of Shaftesbury. She has a journalism background and teaches courses in mystery writing to both children and adults.

In the first of the series, Crewel World (1999), Betsy's sister is murdered in her own needlework shop. Betsy inherits the shop and it is through her reasoning and unravelling of motive and opportunity that the murder is solved. As the series rolls out, Betsy's skills in ordering data, understanding human motivation and engagement, building friendships and bringing people into the needleworking community involve her and that community in the investigation of a number of crimes.

The series is 'cosy' crime in the sense that Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories are cosy crime - small community life and close observation of human interactions combine with local police who don't mind a bit of talented local help from women who knit and sew. There are a set of regular characters who pull back sufficiently from stereotype to keep me reading.

In addition, each book has a stitching pattern of some kind at the end, mostly cross-stitch, but sometimes different. I like the books for the community they create, the positive view of small town life in the USA, as people adapt to changes in roles, the economy and relationships while adhering to their values.

The books following Crewel World are, in order:
Framed in Lace (1999), A Stitch in Time (2000), Unravelled Sleeve (2001), A Murderous Yarn (2002), Hanging by a Thread (2003), Cutwork (2004), Cruel Yule (2005), Embroidered Truths (2005), Sins and Needles (2006), Knitting Bones (2007), Thai Die (2008),  Blackwork (2009), Buttons and Bones (2010) and Threadbare, due to be published later this year. They are available in hardback, paperback, Kindle and other eBook forms.

As yet I haven't embroidered any of the patterns at the end of the books but I intend to do so, beginning with the Han Phoenix at the end of Thai Die  and getting around to the Tlatolli from Embroidered Truths and the shooting star from Buttons and Bones.

Friday, August 12, 2011


In March of last year I saw a woman in New York wearing a loose cowl - essentially a joined up scarf. It seemed such a good idea in the cold weather. I put it on my back-burner and this winter went looking for a pattern. I found a couple of simple free patterns online and used one of them to make a couple of cowls from spare wool.
The pattern I used to experiment is called 5th Avenue, by tentenknits. I first use a mauve mohair I had from Bendigo Woollen mills to make a cowl for myself.

I was pretty pleased with the result, both in terms of the look and the warmth, so I knitted a red merino one for Jim. He wore it while we were in Victor Harbor last week.

Brigid rather liked it too!

It is a simple two line pattern, knitted in the round with a knit row between the pattern rows. Easy enough to remember after the first pattern round.

I also bought the book, Cowlgirls, by Cathy Carron. It has some great patterns ( a couple of non-starters too, but, hey, out of 40 patterns, that's carping).

facing side is the wrong side
My first Cowlgirl venture is in mohair - another simple textured stitch in mohair, with a ribbed border on both sides. It is also knitted in the round, this time knitted with the wrong side facing. It is a deeper and shorter than the first two above.

Right side

The pattern suggests wearing two of these together in different colours.I think it will be very warm on its own, and looks good doubled over too.

This one is a present that needs to be mailed. Before sending it, my granddaughter Niamh graciously agreed to model it for me.
Cowl hanging loose.
Cowl around twice
Cowl over the head.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Snack Bags

I've been wanting to try making some bags from the Design Collective book on lunch bags. I bought it a while back, along with some of the thermal wadding used in the bag on the cover. So I did a test run to make a couple of bags for the snacks we make for our two eldest grandchildren when we pick them up from school once a week. Usually the snacks go in paper bags in a basket that sits on the back seat of the car, between the children. I thought they might like their own snack bags.

I chose a simple fold-over bag and used a couple of fat quarters from my stash. Rather than use the thermal wadding, since our snacks don't need it, I lined the bags with an off-cut from a plasticised table cloth I made for our extending table.

The pattern proved to be really simple. The hardest bit was turning the lined bags inside out through the slit left in the bottom of the plasticised lining. Rather than fold the bottom corners and stitching across the triangle to form a base, the pattern created a L-shaped indent (seen under the machine foot). I haven't done that before but it worked well, especially with the heavy plasticised lining.

The bags are tall enough to fit a drink bottle, and should wipe clean.

I was pleased with the button on the motorcycle bag - a good match in size for the bike wheels and the spare for a coat discarded many moons ago!

A post-script to this is that the first time the kids used the bags was a success. However, the second time I didn't screw the lids of their water bottles on properly and the water leaked out, soaking the snacks because it had nowhere to go with the waterproof lining!

Really sorry, kids.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Silk bag therapy - Two of Three

In between some work I have stitched up the remaining silk bags from the fabric I bought from Fabricana (see Silk bag therapy - One of Three). It has been a good thing to do in a break. Since the bags are cut out, it doesn't take long to make one. The fabric is so lovely to work with - although I have learned not to wear my black wool jumper while sewing it!

I am going to post the next group here and the rest in one later post.

The first few are very straightforward, a sari piece in bright orange that included a heavy brocade border with silver thread

and a lovely piece of silk organza embroidered in satin stitch. This needed lining to manage fraying edges.
The bag to the left has bands of  elephant and deer and is a good size - probably 40 cm high.

The next group needed more careful cutting. The peacock bag is about 24x35cm.

 There was enough of the non-bordered part to make another small bag.

 A satin-stitched flower border also looks good.

In this silk jungle print, the tigers have been embroidered with chain stitch and beaded.  There was enough to make a smaller and a larger bag.

The trickiest one to stitch was a piece with a heavily beaded border. In the end I whipped the bottom closed by hand.

I do rather like the result though.

How will these bags be used? I'll use them in place of gift wrapping in the hope they will be used again and continue the enjoyment of the fabric for just a bit longer.