May 30, 2006

Tie one on May challenge

A smock apron to wear out.

Here I am, wearing it out...

(at Manchester Art Gallery). Not too sure I'll wear it that often, mind, I've come to the conclusion smocks are best suited to those whose ribs stick out...

May 27, 2006

I've been making some leaf prints this week, playing around with ideas for a swap with Pink Rocket.

Here's an apple pincushion for May's pincushion challenge. The fabric is a rip-off of Orla Kiely's designs which I love dearly.

May 23, 2006

My Back Tack softie is all wrapped up and ready for a flight to Sweden.

I'll post more pictures after Desiree gets it: I'd hate to spoil the surprise.

May 21, 2006

Nineth century (more than 1100 years old!) Egyptian woven fabric from the Clothing Culture exhibition. I'm still amazed that it has survived so long.

Yes, it was dark in there :)

Look at the similarity to Cheshire red cabbage... (which also amazingly turns the water blue...

May 20, 2006

Today we went to the Whitworth Art Gallery. They have a fabulous textile collection and today were launching both the family guide to the new permanent display of textiles and the exhibition of early (and I mean pre-1000AD - amazing!) clothing.

The new textile gallery is great. It's got some downsides (no object labels yet, tee hee; the children's activities in such subtle housing you miss them), but the displays are simple and engaging (and, nicely, the lighting increases as you go up to them). And once we found them, DD loved the dressing up in costumes from around the world and the drawing with stencils.

I was most inspired by this lino block printed fabric from 1938. It was designed by EQ Nicholson, who, poor thing, is more famous for being Ben Nicholson's sister-in-law. The Whitworth also display her original sketch and lino block. The block's only about 8" x 10" (and she obviously used another underneath in blue for the sky), but the unusually small print sections look great.

May 19, 2006

The Great Friday Mailout :) I got quite into the packaging...

My mum recently found all the letters I wrote home when I was younger.

I used to really enjoy decorating the envelope with drawings but also with strange quotes or facts.

May 18, 2006

Before Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes back from the New World in the sixteenth century, we Britons were forced to turn to parsnips for mashing and roasting.

We're still awaiting Reynolds to introduce freezer paper to the UK and so, ironically, I'm stuck decorating fabric with potato prints rather than stylish freezer paper stencils.

I made a stand today and instead made parsnip prints. Unlike with freezer paper (sob!), the paint bled copiously. But I rather like the end effect, it's a bit like batik.

(Personally I love parsnips but DD and DH hate them. They're currently in season so I've got a lot in the fridge...)

May 17, 2006

DD's first embroidery (she's 4).

I was pretty impressed with her needleship until I looked up what girls were doing 150 years ago.

This sampler has faded a lot but it was made by a six year old called Emily in 1858. I wonder if she could even properly read what she was stitching?

Actually I'm still impressed with DD's. She picked out the colours herself and there's an interesting composition going on there...

May 15, 2006

The Great Monday Give-away!
You can read more about the give-away here at Bugheart. Gwen does it every week, but this is probably a one-off...

Basically, the rules are:
- if you want something, leave a comment
- if you are the first to comment, send me an email with your details (my email in sidebar)
- once you've received the item, send me a postcard showing it in its new home
- if you decide you don't like something, pass it on to someone else or put it to another crafting use. Don't sell it on!

Taken! (all to go together) Four 1960s sewing patterns. Size 38inch bust. Two dresses, a skirt & jacket and a coat.
Taken! Dark blue silk. Both 113cm wide, 2m of a light weight silk and 2.5m of silk chiffon. Bought at Liberty's in 1994 so it probably counts as vintage now :) I bought it to make a shift dress from, but 12 years later haven't managed yet...
Taken! Ollie and Nick evening purse. Black velvet with a japanese design of silver and green flowers. Dark red satin inside with pocket. I love this, but I have way too many bags...
(all to go together) Ten knitting patterns from the 1980s. Lots of sweaters (including a batwing!) and cardigans, a skirt and a hat and scarf. All for women except one cardigan which is sized for both men and women.

May 14, 2006

The wonderful Gwen at Bugheart offers up some of her amazing vintage collections each week in the Great Monday Give-away.

I've been on tenterhooks waiting for the postie to bring the dress I nabbed and was so excited when it came. Even the packing was amazing, and Gwen included some great yarn in the exact matching shade of orange.

In honour of Ms Bugheart's generosity, I will be doing my own Great Monday Give-away tomorrow, so y'all come back y'hear?

May 12, 2006

Rhurbarb isn't very photogenic, really... but it's in season and so I've made LOTS of rhubarb crumble.

Oaty Crumble Topping
(use to cover any gently stewed fruit - other favourites are apple and orange or mixed berries)

3oz butter
3oz plain flour
4oz oats
4oz brown sugar

with cool fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add a little sugar and liquid to the fruit and top with a generously thick layer of crumble. Bake at gas mark 5 (200 degrees C) for 35 minutes.

Makes enough for 3 family-sized crumbles. Will keep for several days in a covered dish in the fridge. Crumbles freeze well.

May 11, 2006

One Skein swap questionnaire

Which yarn is most like your personality (you can be specific or general with your answer- brand, type, color, fiber, whatever)?
I haven't really knitted with enough yarns yet to be too conclusive on this one - basically I'm open to suggestion!
I'm not good at very slow-going projects so generally head towards thicker yarns, but that's one of the things that attracted me most about the one-skein book: nothing would take too long! So perhaps this is my chance to use more delicate yarns (whch I generally love the look and feel of).

What is your favorite color yarn to knit/crochet with?
If I'm knitting for me I tend to go for reds, purples, browns and the odd bit of green. For my daughter it has to be pink. I most like slightly washed-out pigments rather than really really garish ones.

Have you ever used variegated, or magic, yarns?
I'm not a sock knitter so haven't tried self-striping yarns. I can see it would add interest to the process but I'm usually not so keen on the strong colour changes. I'm not a big fan of varigated yarn for the same reason but do like the subtle changes of a hand-dyed or similar yarn.

Do you tend to favor certain fibers when choosing yarns?
I like the feel of natural fibres and 'quality' yarns, although I find a % of artificial fibre really does help the knitting process. I keep hoping to find a great yarn that is machine washable but I haven't done so yet...

Do you prefer to work with center-pull or traditionally wound balls of yarn?
Is it just me? I can never find the centre end to pull...

Have you ever worked with organic yarns or are you interested in trying them?
I haven't although I am interested in welfare farming and supporting smaller local products. I enjoy investigating the smaller suppliers who carefully source their flock etc. I've bought fair-trade alpaca and would aim to do so again.

How many and what projects have you made in the last year?
Only really started knitting again at the end of last year. Since then I have completed knitty's tempting top, a hat from a vintage pattern, a mobeius wrap, a felted bag, a bolero and (nearly) a string of flags. I've sewn quite a few things in that period too.

Will you be knitting any gifts this year?
I should have thought so, possibly from the book!

What is your favorite one skein project?
My book hasn't arrived yet but... I think the things I'm most likely to tackle first are the felted bowl and the tank.

How much yarn do you have in your stash and how do you store it?
At the minute about a dozen balls, in a basket in the bedroom.

Do you have a yarn in your stash that you love so much you can never use it or part with it?
I don't really get that attached to materials, I tend to instead plan over and over again what to use them for (but then never get started). I do have several balls of recycled yarn from a friend's sweater that I won't use until I can find the 'right' thing.

Do you knit less or differently in the summer?
not sure yet! Probably not though. I don't dress much differently.

Do you belong to any knitting groups (online or offline)?
several projects (see my blog) but no stitch 'n' bitch type groups.

May 09, 2006

Recognise the yarn, Bryony?

Bryony awarded me 200g of Rowan Cork for recognising something obscure about Vic & Bob.

It's Ivy colourway and I first planned to make something for DD whose middle name is Ivy (after her great grandmother). However, 4 year olds and handwash-only merino rarely mix successfully so instead I knit myself this bolero/shrug to celebrate Project Spectrum's month of green.

Cork is discontinued now and I can sort of see why, it's a very unforgiving yarn made of a stretched tube rather than spun normally. If you dare to put it down in the middle of a row it makes a big gap between stitches. Any stitch except stocking stitch looked like I was making fishing nets.

But it's a shame it's gone: the stocking stitch looks lovely and I've never come across another yarn that knits up quick on 8mm needles but doesn't create a bulky garment (if anyone knows of others - tell me, please!).

The pattern started off as Knitscene's sideways ribs... but I thought I'd make it with short sleeves and shorter as I didn't have much yarn (although I only used about 100g in the end)... then nixed the ribbing and knit it all in stocking stitch... then wanted to give it a little more structure to hold a heavy brooch I'd bought so added binding round the edge (which took ages to sew, but I like the end result).

The shape of the brooch reminds me of the 'happy' shapes on Terry Frost's painting.

May 08, 2006

shhh! it's a secret...

My printer refused to print out the pattern for Pointy Kitty, so it was back to the drawing board for Back Tack. And the result is so adorable I'm going to have real trouble sending it off to Sweden. Here's all I'm showing til it's done :)

May 05, 2006

Tee hee... think I might have a go at Tie one on this month.

Sorry, you'll have to click the picture to read the strip, Blogger can't cope with an image this wide any other way...

May 03, 2006

I'm procrastinating on the pointy kitty... and am instead embroiled in the possibilities of back tack extras (which I fear may become a whole scary world of one-upmanship).

So... starting small with cute bunny patches...

May 02, 2006

An inspirational painting for Project Spectrum's month of green.

It's by Terry Frost, Green, Black and White Movement, 1951. It's in the Tate.

Frost used these circle-segment shapes a lot in his work. I don't know what particular significance they had for him, but photographs of him show he had a hugely expressive mouth, often with a wide smile the same shape as he used in his work.

May 01, 2006

H is for... heels

Now it's May, it's time to start thinking about waxing my legs, painting my toenails and wearing shoes I can't walk in very easily. :)