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Monday, September 30, 2019

Jewel bags and gift bags

The little bits of silk left over from the filet lace bag I wrote about gave me an idea for my twin granddaughters' birthdays last month. The cuff, with its self-covered button was an obvious bag for a small piece of jewellery.
The strip left from the shoulder of the sleeve provided the lining for a piece of linen I had already marked up for a tiny version of one of Christine Bishop's fail-proof bags.

I borrowed an idea for a pineapple on the front of this one - from a lovely piece Margaret Adams  had in the September Gallery display at the Embroiderers' Guild. Thanks Margaret!

Into the bags I placed a couple of pieces of jewellery that had been given to me - one a pearl and marcasite drop given to me by my brother, for, I think, my 18th birthday,

The other is a pearl and marcasite drop given to me by my parents on my 16th birthday.

It was not the only thing I gave them for their birthdays, but it seemed appropriate.

On my DYI roll, I dug out a couple of initials I had drawn, a couple of years ago, on to calico, as an experiment with my Derwent Inkintense fabric coloured pencils.  I had used a book of Medieval manuscripts to create initials on calico, but the moment passed and I didn't colour them.

I dug them out, along with the pencils, and played around. What I should have done was read the instructions on the pencils instead of relying on my memory. I knew the process involved water, so coloured them, then wet the fabric, thinking that would set the colour.


You are meant to either begin with wet fabric, wet the pencil, or use a wet brush on the coloured fabric.

I managed to rescue them with a brush and more pencil, then let them set - by drying.

They are not my best effort, but not a disaster either.

I had planned to line them and make them into carry bags with handles, but on the advice of friends, I lined them and made them into drawstring bags.

Some ribbon completes the birthday bags.

They're not heirloom pieces - but they are, I think,  appropriate to hold 12th birthday presents from your Nana.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Filet lace workshop

The August Embroiderers' Guild of SA Certificate Course workshop was taken by Deb Richardson and focused on filet lace. I knew nothing about filet lace, and had been unable to source locally any of the fish-net on which it is stitched. Deb, of course, had prepared a little kit for us to use and a design small enough not to be daunting, but large enough to try out five different stitches using three different thicknesses of thread.

I found some of it (mostly the woven section using 12 pearl thread) very hard on my eyes and I had not thought to bring magnifiers.

I wasn't sure I would finish it, but I picked it up a couple of weeks after the class - with a magnifier - and had another play. This time I managed the weaving.

This is my finished piece.

It is an adaptation of Deb's design as I stuffed up the border placement. When I began I was focused on learning the stitch rather than placement. The top and bottom borders should be shorter, so that the corners are open.

The pieces Deb had prepared were generously backed with calico, which we cut away carefully before beginning to stitch.

This provided a means of mounting the finished piece on to something else. I, of course, thought I would mount it on a bag.

I dug out a few pieces of fabric I thought might work and consulted with Katherine, Niamh and Veronica.

They chose this blue silk sleeve. My mother bought me the Italian silk in Italy in the 80s and I made myself a shirtmaker dress. It has long gone, but I kept (for some reason I don't remember) a sleeve from it. The colour shows up the filet lace quite nicely.

I removed the cuff, undid the gathering and squared off the shoulder fitting, to make a long thin bag that will hold (if all else fails) a bottle of wine.
In the end I reduced the calico mount to a narrow hem and hand-stitched both the inside and the outside edge on to the silk.

I feather-stitched the bottom of the bag (the top of the sleeve) closed
and the top opening into a drawstring channel.

I then made a cord and a tassel from the 5 pearl thread.

So here we have a slightly odd drawstring bag to show off the filet lace.

It doesn't exactly scream 'wine bag' but I'm sure it will prove to be perfect for some long, thin present in the not-too-distant future.

And I've learnt a bit, had quite a bit of fun and done justice to my mother's gift of fabric.

Thanks Deb.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Australian Alpaca Shawl

I bought a kit of two-ply Australian alpaca from Australian Alpaca Yarn. Both the yarn and the pattern were lovely.

The pattern was knit from the top down, beginning with a cast on of over 300 stitches.

Knitting on each row stops 4 stitches short of the end of the previous row, but the unknitted stitches stay on the needle. Consequently the centre gets longer and the edges stay narrower.

Once you are only knitting the four centre stitches on the row, the lace edge pattern is taken up and knitted across the whole row.

I was, I admit, anxious to get on to the lace section. I found it difficult to maintain even stocking stitch with 2 ply wool and slightly  larger than usual needles (which, of course, contribute to the lace effect when blocked.)

To ensure I kept lace the pattern, I had an absurd number of stitch markers - but it kept my pattern.

I had the barest amount of yarn left at the end.

It did, however, block up rather well, and it is very soft.

I'm very pleased to have tackled this one. It is lovely, lovely yarn - and there is no end of interest in the various ways of shaping a triangular shawl.