Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Needlework not Knitting

My knitting mojo must be somewhere, but it certainly isn't anywhere near me. For the last two weeks or so, I've only knitted at the knitting group. I tried picking up my current project today, but 20 minutes later, it was put down again.

What I have been doing is lots of sewing. Or to be precise, embroidery. All from other people's designs, in the form of kits. And the problem with that - from a blogging POV - is that the photos are not the most scintillating of blog candy.

Just look at these photos:
All of last year
square of
28th January
square of
21st February
square of
24th February
square of
If it was four photos of knitting or quilting or dressmaking, I could display them differntly: draped or folded, neatly piled or strewn. But embroidary is basically flat, the size if the piece is the same (even if the area covered by stitches changes). Even changing the backgound doesn't actually make a great deal of difference to the photo.

I am enjoying it, and I'm enjoying the needlework blogs I've been exploring. But my photos are a bit dull.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celtic Knot or Not

If one uses the dining room table for one's sewing machine, the machine has to be put away at frequent intervals. And then sometimes when it is put away, the machine stays put away for days... and weeks ... and months.

Which explains why nothing happened to my Celtic Knot (from Ferret's book) between about September (when I last posted about it) and a week ago. But the sewing machine stayed put away, and I got sidetracked with other things.

Then one of the kids needed the machine, so it got dragged out and crucially, not put away afterwards.

The following morning, the day before half term, it called to me, it's siren call keeping me from all the other possibilities. It was impossible to resist, especially knowing it was my last chance for over a week. I threaded the red thread into place, smoothed out my quilt sandwich and started to sew.

(I should make it clear that I am a novice at machine quilting, so what happened next is entirely my fault. And it was full of pins.)

I sewed a few inches of bias tape in place, and from the top it looked fine.
square of But because I was stopping and starting lots anyway, I used one of the stops to check the back. The back was not fine, the back had lots of skipped stitches.

square of

I cut the thread, and started again in a different place. Soon I checked the back again, and there were still lots of skipped threads. So I rethreaded the machine, and started for a third time - and there were still lots of skipped threads.

Normally, I would stop at this point and do something else.

But I thought back to last summer, and helping Ferret at the Festival of Quilts, an event I still haven't properly blogged.

People visiting the gallery tended to open the conversation with one of several 'standard' comments (although the ways it would diverge after a standard response were endlessly fascinating). One standard conversation started with the visitor saying "it looks so difficult, I don't think I could do that" (or something similar). My answer was a variation on "what Ferret says is that if you start with the bit you can do, your skills will increase and then you'll be able to do things you can't do now."

"Hmmm", I thought to myself, "if I was saying that, then I'd better actually put it into practise".

So I had a cup of coffee and a biscuit, and started again. This time, I just continued, all the way round the knot, slowly and carefully, making sure that what I could see looked fine. It took about 45 minutes to go all the way round, but finally it was done. And I took it out of the machine and looked at the back. And I realised what the problem had been, because there were areas where there was no skipping. The skipping problem happened in the areas with lots of pins! The last bits of sewing were problem free because I had been taking the pins out as I sewed.

I finished off by sewing the other side of the bias tape in place, and declared it done (for the moment). I am actually very pleased with the result: the bias tape does not show up much, because it was cut from the same material as the background, but that was the effect I wanted. square ofThe red stitching shows up well on the blue backing material (although not in the photos) and again that was the effect I wanted. It isn't good enough for a reversable wallhanging, but I am pleased with it as a practise piece.
square of
Oh yeah, what is it meant to be? It's the convection currents inside a star, and the blue is the night sky. I might use yellow instead of red for my next try, but it's sort of what I wanted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poor neglected blog

It may appear neglected, but my poor blog is not forgotten. The next post will have Photos, for the first time in ages (assuming I can get it all together).

Instead a link: to Freelance Fabrics, an independant fabric shop with a good range of fabric, including printed vinyl. There is free parking as well. I came across it, because 'our' orthodontist is in the same shopping mall: the owner said he got a lot of trade from them. We've been past several times but at long last got to actually go in and look round, rather then racing back to school.

There address is Freelance Fabrics, 4 Kidlington Centre, High Street, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, OX5 2DL. It's to the north of Oxford, not far from the A34.

Right now I need to finish making soup, and then go to knitting.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Getting nowhere

I sometimes feel like I seem to spend a long time making stuff, but never get anything done. It was with that sentiment I listed the projects I worked on in the sidebar.

The things I worked on in January were:

  1. Wristwarmers for me
  2. No 5 Crib (backstitch)
  3. Knucks for J
  4. Leaf quilt
  5. Loden jacket
  6. Knitted Christmas Tree
  7. Knitted holly leaf
  8. Elephant silhouettes
  9. TT Scissor Keep
  10. Limbo jumper
  11. Elphine Socks
Eleven different things! Only three of them were finished, and two of those - the Holly Leaf and the Christmas Tree - were afternoon projects and hence forgotten about almost as soon as they were made. Seven of them were started a while ago, where "a while" does not mean last year. The other one was started after Christmas, and is still ongoing, but it has had several iterations.

The finishes were good, but what would have happened if I had concentrated on one other thing, rather then doing bits of eight? Some of them are very big, but others are just little fast things. I like varying what I am doing, but should I concentrate on just a couple? Or should I make sure I work on these other things more frequently? Added complication, in that there are a number of different crafts in that list - knitting (stocking stitch and lace), crochet, needlework, sewing. Complex, simple, big, small, designed myself or pattern. Different things to suit different moods, but is it too much?