Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Owls - all the rage in Stitchville


The Christmas stockings are coming along – some of them more quickly than others - and as I work my way through I’m realising what I would do differently if I were to do this again.  Buy them.  Not really.  Hmmm.  There are loads of beautiful Christmas stockings out there already made though and clearly they look what they are – professionally finished.  There have been several “gah” moments when I stumble across another lot of them and wonder why I’m doing them myself.  Apart from the pleasure of it of course.  I’m hoping my home spun look and personalised stockings will appeal more than store bought goodies.  I have also noticed a plethora of knit baubles in the shops and a lot of them are seamed which has made me ponder – wouldn’t it be easier to knit them in the round?  No fiddly seams to finish and a neater shape.  Maybe that’s my inexperience with finishing talking.

So, what would I do differently.  I’ve left the appliqué raw edged thinking it would add character but I hadn’t counted on the nature of linen and its ability to fray given the slightest prompting.  The positive is that I’ve mastered my arch-nemesis zigzag stitch once and for all as I’ve had to edge all of the linen pieces, but if only I’d realised before I appliquéd on the lettering.  Next time, I’d sew under the edges.  Oscar’s ho ho hO is looking a bit sorry for itself even with my newly introduced chain stitch to tidy it up. 

The other thing I would have done is listen to my instinct on the tree “A” as I don’t like the green felt – it looks as if someone’s left a misshapen snooker table in the middle of a misshapen crop circle.  Too late now, although I’m wondering whether I just stitch another tree over the top of the felt one in the dark green odd spot material I had in mind in the first place.  The lesson here is ask others’ advice but don’t assume they know better – each time I see it, I grimace and that means it probably will have to change, not least as I dislike it sufficiently that I can see I’ve been careless on the baubles and French knots – a clear sign I knew it wasn’t right and should have tried to fix it sooner.

Although it’s the simplest, my favourite is the Santa “I” – in the end I left the front pretty much untouched and the detail is on the back, but I think it looks adorable and very understated.  To make up for that, as I’m not sure 7 years olds particularly care for understated, I did sew a bell to the hat of the boy on the front.

Next is the Elf for Elsa and then we’re nearly there with making up.  Again, a Eureka moment in the middle of the night when it occurred to me how best to sew the lining, boot, plush and hook together and the next day my research on YouTube showed me I had been right so I must have been learning something over all these months and that’s quite a nice feeling. 


Liberty were running a Rowan workshop to knit a Christmas stocking so I thought, “why not?  I’ll give it a go”.  Which I did – it’s a good venue, apart from the lighting which is more suited to mole watching, bat bothering and other nocturnal pursuits, but what a lovely room and a delicious cream tea.  I’ll buy reading spectacles for goodness sake if the venue is good.  First attempts at beading and frills are attached.  If I could track down knitters graph paper then I’d have a go at designing a reindeer motif and knit one for the office, specifically the administrator in my team who soundly teases me every time I mention any of my crafty activities.

The Rowan instructor was impressive – she was very clear, thorough and although not always gentle with people about their progress she was honest in a way that was constructive and helpful.  Out of a group of eight there were four of us who knew how to knit and another four whose skill level varied between absolute beginner to pretty much a beginner (although that person also didn’t like knitting long rows of stitches, changing colours, adding in new yarns, using needles etc – I did rather wonder why she was there but as she was sucking up large quantities of the tutor’s time I didn’t get a chance to ask).  That cream tea though, you’d have to go some way to beat it and the session itself provided reassurance that while I think I know nothing I’m actually fairly competent and can have a go at most things (whether or not I will is a different thing).  Oxford Street or its surrounds are too busy at the weekends and I’m reminded why I typically shop online.  I have now signed up for one of Rowan’s Professional Finishing classes, but ended up booking in York for next March as I thought it was a good opportunity to visit my sister and probably marginally less of a melee than The Big Smoke.

The baby blanket is also chugging along – I’m about half way through and then I need to tackle the entrelac which is a new thing to learn and a bit daunting looking but should also make the blanket look rather spiffing.  Apart from a few bodges on stitch count – the perils of knitting past one’s bedtime – it’s going ok and I really like the way it looks.  In the light the colour is also a zingy and refreshing looking green colour.  In the evening, by lamp light, it’s alarmingly close to baby goo colour so that is either a good thing, as it’ll hide the grossness, or it’s a very bad thing, as baby grossness is horrible in and of itself and one doesn’t need to be reminded of it in its absence. 

The bobbles close up
 I’d really like to turn my hand to designing knits but am not quite sure where to start really; might have to add it to my long list of “things I want to do but full-time work gets in the way of”.

Sewing again

To try and mix things up a bit, I’m off to the Make Lounge next Tuesday to make a Log Cabin quilted cushion.  I’ve been to two workshops about paper piecing and hand quilting which I thoroughly enjoyed.  However, I’m making a baby quilt for a friend and I wanted to do machine quilting which means I need to learn how to do it really accurately – I’d be a lot less bothered if it was for me as I could have a tinker and deal with any issues as they arose.  However it’s not for me and I want it to be as close to perfect as possible. 

I already think I have a good idea about what to do to keep it simple.  I would have just got stuck in this weekend, and then I saw the course and decided it might be fun to learn properly.  It was either that or a machine appliqué workshop which would be fun to do, but less immediately useful.  For the quilt itself I’ve chosen a mixture of the three Urban Zoologie owl prints – Bermuda, Blue and Multi – and coupled them with spotty fabrics in complementary colours.  Am starting to pick up a bit of information on colour theory and it’s really fascinating.  It’s definitely informing the way I’m see things.  I bought these from Fabric Rehab which is a website I'm embarrassingly addicted to and keep popping onto to see what new treats might be available.  Must.  Stop.  There's a recession you know.

My plan is to do 6.5” squares and then quilt square shapes about ¼” inside the seam lines so it’s a super simple quilt but hopefully quite effective.  More on that as things progress as things will no doubt change as I plod through the making process.

The only other news is my craft room which is due to start being put together on the 28th.  Or more accurately, knocked down and put back together.  In the meantime I have to clear the spare room of all my stuff (and there’s already a sizeable pile for the charity shop) and buy flooring for what will be the new sewing area.  I should also really decide on a colour and start steeling myself for the nerve racking endeavour of making my first roman blinds.  I really can’t wait to have a room dedicated to sewing – increasingly I have been living surrounded by yarns and fabrics and it starts to get a bit chaotic living surrounded by clutter.  A trip to Ikea at the weekend gave me lots of storage and I’ve already started sorting through things so they are at least stored well and properly and will in due course have a new home to go to. 

Not sure if other people have found this but I do sometimes find it difficult to convince others that spending time making things is important and an actual "thing".  Often I’ll try and extract myself for the day and often get a response that the crafty stuff isn’t a priority.  I struggle with it slightly as I don’t really have a good response – it’s ultimately quite a selfish use of time, but not doing it makes me feel cooped up and frustrated.  Sometimes I wish I could take a sabbatical (from work, from people?) and spend the time learning more about different crafts, getting my paws on different ways of making and totally immerse myself in the culture of it.  All very self-indulgent but what a wonder to find something where you enjoy the practical and the theoretical aspects. 

Right, am off to teach a beginner to knit - we did casting on and stocking stitch last time, and we're moving on to ribbing so she can make a snood...

No comments:

Post a Comment