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Monday, July 28, 2014

Knitted Hat

I had been nursing a pattern for a while now for a hat, looking for the right circumstances to use it. It is called Fan Vaulting Beret, and was published in the Canadian magazine, A Needle Pulling Thread in Spring 2013 p50. The design was based the fan vaulted ceiling of Bath Abbey in the UK.

I decided to make one for the Canberra winters, to go with the cardigan I completed for my daughter. She recently visited Bath.

It is knitted around an i-cord - a useful variation on the usual ribbed band.
The pattern is not as distinct in the yarn mixture as it would be in pure, single-colour wool, but it still provided texture.

As you can see, it goes well with the cardigan. It is also toasty-warm.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Knitted top

I couldn't resist trying Bendigo Woolen Mills' Harvest when it was available earlier this  year. It is 82% wool, 10% alpaca, 4% bamboo and 4% viscose. I bought Spring Mix (purples) and  Dusk (blue). I also bought a copy to their pattern 8349, Cardigan with lace front detail and three quarter sleeves.

 I love the way this yarn knitted up. It was very soft on my hands and held the pattern really well.

The pattern was also nicely balanced - the plain back and sleeves knitted up quite quickly and the front had that bit of interest that prevented boredom.

I have a debate with myself about the best method of joining knitted pieces together.

I am not a great fan of backstitched seams in knitting. It always seems to create a very heavy seam for me. When I am feeling very patient, I go for ladder stitch, but mostly I stick to my grandmother's method of top stitching, which, once ironed, I find sits flatter than backstitching. It is strong - provided I finish off very carefully and securely (which, I admit, my grandmother rarely did!).

I used some small flower shaped buttons - a good colour match.

As this wool is a little chunkier than Classic Luxury for which the pattern was originally designed, I made it a little less form fitting, so an extra layer can go underneath.

This one is for my daughter facing the chilly Canberra winter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Emery jack-in-the-box finish

I am conscious, in writing about how I embroidered and constructed these tools, that the intellectual property of the design and construction belongs to Betsy Morgan. I have been trying to write about each piece in a way that doesn't breach that. It is not always easy to work out how I can describe what I did without encroaching on the teacher's IP. I hope I have succeeded.

The construction of the basic box in which the Jack sits was by now familiar, so I got that bit done and gathered the box, the lid, its lining and the loop to hold the emery.

I was worried that the very fine emery would leak out, so I stitched the bundle of emery closed in a vigorous, if inelegant manner before attaching the ring.

The fiddliest bit was attaching the ribbon to the spring, but it worked OK.

In the end, the 'push' on the lid is quite strong against the bead catch, but it holds, and works.

And the lid? - Looks better than I had hoped, a testament to the hours of work in those petit point lines!

So, the Etui is finished. Here are a couple of photos of the finished pieces, both inside and outside the box.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Emery Jack-in-the-box embroidery

This is the very last of the Toy Chest Etui toys for me to make. I can't say I have any wish to make more!

The basic shape is the box with which we are now familiar from the thimble-keep and waxer. This one is very slightly larger than those two. As this was one of the additional kits I purchased at the class, I needed to do the embroidery first.

The little fan motifs in this piece were quite fun to do. I tried not to get too far ahead with these without adding the central rows of petit-point cross-stitch in the centre of each panel - so I didn't end up with all the difficult bits at the end!

I do like the colour combination in this piece.

The tricky bit, however, came, as I knew it would, with the lid.

The central motif of the lid is a series of squares in diagonal stripes - each one thread wide. I chose to do these as diagonal rows rather than as alternating tent stitch in two colours across each horizontal row.

The difficulty is exacerbated by all threads being variegated. At some points the variegation in the two colours in any one square ends up almost identical - an interesting effect, but very tricky to stitch.

 I found this quite a challenge - but got there in the end.

I have rarely been so relieved to reach the end of a piece.

The lid looks wonky to the eye, but for the most part it isn't. The variegation in the thread means you don't get a nice crisp look on the edge.

Now for the construction and FINISH!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Embroiderers' Guild Kantha Class

I have long been interested in Kantha embroidery - from books and from some of the Sari scraps I have used. Last week the South Australian Embroiderers' Guild offered a Kantha workshop as part of the Certificate Course. The workshop was taken by Barbara Mullan, who has worked and written on running stitch, including Kantha. All Guild members can attend, so I did.

We examined examples - from the Guild's Museum, from Barbara's collection, and from the collection of Christine Bishop who coordinates the Guild's Certificate Course. We then got into learning the stitches one at a time and stitching them on our sampler.

This was a lot of fun. Kantha is a series of variations on running stitch.

It is so versatile. For example, the crosses on the left side are made the same way as the purple/blue vertical/horizontal pattern next to it - in one the verticals cross the horizontals, in the other they go between.

Kantha is used as a quilting stitch, layering two or more pieces of fabric, such as old saris together to form a heavier fabric. We used two layers in our samplers.

The spaces between the sample stitches or patterns are filled with more running stitch in a free-style to suit the stitcher and the design.

The Kantha 'bible', now out of print, is The Art of Kantha Embroidery, by Niaz Zarman.

I was enjoying this piece so much I finished it off at home over the next two days.

I decided to finish the sampler by ironing, cutting the two layers of fabric to form a border then folding the raw edges in, between the two fabric layers, and using Kantha stitch to seal the edges.

I used one of the stitches we hadn't tried on the outer edge.

In what I hope is the Kantha spirit, I used my eye and instinct rather than a ruler. The signature would be better in lower case, but upper gave me more straight stitching.

I am really pleased with this result. I'm grateful for the class, the teaching and the companionship of the workshop.It has given me ideas as well as a lot of learning fun.