Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sewing and shopping

This is Holly Culpepper, a sort of dog-rabbit. I made her from the pattern in one of my (growing collection of) Japanese Craft Books and I rather like her. I know her expression is a little sad but that's because she desperately wants to play outside and she can't go out until she's had all her shots. This project has taught me quite a bit and now I am working on a little giraffe from the same book which has a slightly different construction. I have some ideas of my own that I want to make and I hope to learn how to best put them together by working on some the patterns in the book.

Here you see her surprised to find a whole new collection of wool has mysteriously arrived in the house.

Thanks to a hot tip on Knitter Natter I immediately went shopping for some Yorkshire Tweed. I love this yarn and really wish it hadn't been discontinued. I have looked at the Scottish Tweed although I haven't actually used it yet, but it doesn't appeal quite as much, maybe it's the colours, I'm not sure. My LYS is pretty much all out of Yorkshire Tweed now and it is still around online but not at these bargain prices.

The bluish green shade is earmarked for this project. Yes, I know I'm a year behind but I really liked this pattern last year and just didn't get round to it, I know it will be a useful one.

This grey is lovely and although I rather like the way it looks just sitting in my bowl and echoing the stone walls in the garden outside I do intend to knit it. Yes, 4ply is not my favourite to knit with but I do really like the fabric produced. I don't have a definite pattern in mind but probably a simple fitted raglan type sweater, I have a copy of A Season's Tale which I'm hoping might have something suitable, any suggestions would be welcomed, I'm looking for something with some shaping.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One Skein gifts

My One Skein gift arrived on Friday, the final part of the One Skein Exchange. On opening my parcel I was greeted by one of my very favourite scents, lavendar, mmm. My One Skein partner has now revealed herself to be Marilyn and her gift is this beautiful lace scarf. The colours are so pretty and the scarf feels very light and warm, it looks very chic tucked around my neck and I am particularly pleased with the lightness which makes it possible to wear it inside as well as out. Marilyn included a sachet of heavenly scented natural moth deterent and a lovely card. The scarf has been so beautifully knitted and finished and Marilyn has been a brilliant exchange partner, thank you so much Marilyn.

Work continues on the denim and I am pleased, or rather relieved, to say that the end is in sight. I am halfway up the final piece and then it's just borders and a collar. Unbelievable I ran out of the damned yarn this week, this sweater really hates me. I am so desperate to finish this that I am now knitting it with gritted teeth, in fact my teeth are barred just typing about it. There are so many new things I want to start and I'm so, so close. OK, back to the bloodstained, I mean denim stained, needles now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Suitable attire

I give you evidence, if it were needed, that one should never garden in a favourite sequinned skirt, not matter how lovely it looks with ones new rubber boots. Heed my warning, swirly skirts and thorny roses are not meant to be.

My One Skein Exchange package is ready to go, I made the little felted clutch bag from the book and added a little felted adornment. I used Debbie Bliss Maya and accidently washed at 60 rather than 40 so it is very felted, but, I think, rather cute nonetheless.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Festival of Quilts

So off I went on Friday for my childfree day. I made an early start and had the company of my technical advisor's newly acquired Sat Nav system to get me safely to Birmingham. We had some initial programming problems as Daisy didn't wish to go the way we wanted to so the early part of my journey was accompanied by her increasingly long suffering tones telling me to "turn around as soon as possible". None the less I got there without getting too cross with Daisy. On walking into the exhibition I was immediately completely overwhelmed. It was amazing, huge, so much to see. Foolishly I didn't bring a camera, I wasn't certain what the policy on photographs would be but in fact could have taken photographs of most things. Ah well, I'll know next time.

Several things particularly stood out to me, it was brilliant to see Janet Bolton's work up close.

Kaffe Fassett's exhibition was fantastic, explosions of colour and pattern and some quilts from his own collection which were really beautiful. I had to have my book signed of course, and I must confess to being rather taken with him in the flesh. He seemed like his work, larger than life and vibrant, very charismatic.

Asa Wettre's stand was particularly inspiring to me. I beautiful collection of quilts alongside Magdalen Ljung's collection of Swedish Doll quilts. I always feel a strong pull towards Swedish design and use of colour, somehow those blue tones seem so suited to our light and make me feel very tranquil. I picked up several postcards and since arriving home have ordered Old Swedish Quilts on Ebay.

Of course there was shopping. Oh boy was there shopping. I am planning my first ever quilt. My dear friends have asked me to be godmother to their son and as I can't be a very financially benevolant godmother I am hoping that lovingly handmade gifts will compensate. I have wanted to make a quilt for such a long time and have been stashing fabric for some time but for everything in my head was very "girly". Seeing the Swedish Quilts made something click and I rushed around the stands searching out the blue toned stripes and checks I suddenly needed. Since coming home I have been plagued by confusion again, how to lay them out? But I do feel happy with my palette.

Of course I couldn't resist a little floral, girley stuff.

There was trim.

And some other things to play with.

I know this is a long post but if you are still reading I would just like to say thank you for all the lovely comments, it really means a lot and it was so nice to read the birthday wishes. I try where possible to reply to all comments by email or on the blog of the poster. Sometimes there is no blog or email to respond to in which case I would like to take this moment to say thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I am so sorry I can't reply personally but your comments are hugely appreciated.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All things fibre

Today's forecast of heavy rain took us out for the day. I took the children to Trefriw Woollen Mills for the afternoon, only a few miles away and a very pleasant drive from here. To my surprise they enjoyed it more than I would have expected and were very interested in the "dye garden". They do sell yarn there but it isn't the most exciting however the best part of the trip, from my point of view, was the little shop set in the Dye Garden. Here a resident spinner and fibre artist was demonstrating her craft. The place was a treasure trove of lovely fibre related treats, felted jewellery, woven scarves, beautiful examples of felted wall hangings and lots of felting materials available to purchase. Above you can see some bits and pieces we picked up, several shades of merino and some lovely silk which apparently can be used very effectively in felting. Sorry about the photograph, since arriving home the sky has gone black, and the thunder has been doing its very best to convince our English Setter that this is the worst day of her life so far (I bathed her this morning as she had been rolling in something particularly unpleasant).

The children are very keen to get on with some felting but that adventure must wait because tomorrow I am have my biggest birthday treat. My technical advisor, also known as "husband", has volunteered to look after the children all day leaving me free to go to the Quilting Show in Birmingham. I am ridiculously excited, in fact I may have trouble sleeping tonight. A whole day to myself, browsing to my heart's content, perfect. Thank you Mr Technical Advisor.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another year

Today I am one year older than I was yesterday. It doesn't matter how many years that makes me altogether as I decided a few birthdays ago that I would just stay at an age I liked and that seems to be working well for me.

My great treat was breakfast in bed. I loved sitting up in bed eating bacon sandwiches, strawberries and reading Brideshead Revisited, total decadence.

The rest of the day has been a little less glorious with rain and a rather smelly dog to be bathed but rain means the children and I can have a lazy afternoon watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (my choice as the birthday girl). This evening my husband is taking me to dinner, which is always a joy and I will feel very glamourous wearing my new birthday treat to myself - chicken fillets for my bra!! Oh yes, I know how to live it up.

Before I go I must show you this, sometimes fairies go scrumping for apples and sometimes they get stuck.....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A time for brownies

I do love chocolate but I tend not to crave it in the summer months. Our hot weather saw a decline in my baking but an increase in our fruit consumption. Deserts were light and often meringue based, we were all eating more fruit and baking was infrequent and resulted in only the odd flapjack, biscuits and occasionaly scones and lemon drizzle cakes.

Things have turned distinctly more autumnal of late though and I finally gave in to Dylan's continual request for Brownies. My best Brownies to date, I used Nigel Slater's recipe which makes a plain brownie, no nuts, no fancy flavourings, he calls it his "very good chocolate brownie recipe" and I will not dispute the title. Highly recommended.

I promised some more details on my latest Japanese book score. I must say I am very reassured by your comments to see that this addiction is shared by so many. So for your hunger I give you :

ISBN 57911091

This is the book I featured in my last post and I have tried to get better shots of some of the images. All instructions are in Japanese of course but the book includes full size patterns and I think there are just enough English measurements and numbering to help me sort out what bits make what dress. There are also some simple stitch diagrams, including one for French Nut Stitch which I rather love and think is now firmly embedded in my brain completely obilterating French Knot.

I love this dress, I have some lovely blue wool fabric stashed which might work well.

I definitely want to have a go at a smock top like this, I have seen some lovely examples in blogland recently.

I really like this contrast stitching, may use this idea on a bag that has been in my head for a while.


Next up we have ISBN 57911054

I know there are already a number of images from this book in circulation but here are some of my favourites. I think mostly this book contains patterns of a more summery nature so it will probably tucked away until spring although there is a really useful little trouser pattern which would work with some lovely soft babycord that is tucked at the bottom of my fabric pile. I envisiage something like these Boden baggies which are a invaluable part of my children's wardrobe every year. So you see really, buying these books will save me an absolute fortune if it means I don't have to buy so many clothes.....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Crafting Japanese Style

These Japanese Craft Books seem to be rather addictive. I'm afraid I have bought quite a few now but I am too ashamed to show them all at once, you might think I have a problem, and it may very well be true, but hey, it isn't bothering me.

They really are such beautiful books, the photography and styling is a feast for the eyes and they are so inspiring. This book inspired me to start a little embroidery. I don't really know how to embroider but I am learning on the job so to speak. I hope it will make a nice little panel to perhaps add to a dress for Tilly, as in this photograph, or maybe to embellish a bag or something.

I will share some more images from the book tomorrow. I need to try to work out how to add them to that great site
as I don't think this particular book appears on there yet. I need to take some better pictures first though, the ones I have so far are rubbish. Of course this all helps distract me from acres of Denim....

Monday, August 07, 2006

Confession Time

I am so excited about the new Rowan book and the slightly cooler weather has me feeling all autumnal which means my thoughts are turning to autumnal knitting, my very favourite sort of knitting. My first "must knit" from the new Rowan is Nakita, it's in my favourite Kidsilk Haze. I have also been meaning to knit Whitney, from RYC, for simply ages, this would be such a useful addition to my wardrobe. I started Electra from 38 last year and have yet to finish but do really, really want to wear it. I love the look of the new tapestry yarn and that felted bag. I really, really want to go yarn shopping. So, what's the hold up? Conscience. It would seem that denim and I are an ill-fated pairing. I started knitting a Debbie Bliss baby blanket in Denim when pregnant with Tilly in 2002. The blanket was moss stitch, my favourite stitch to look at but my least favourite stitch to knit. I dragged it around to ante natal appointments and toddler groups and slowly, very slowly, it grew. Of course once Tilly was born it was completely abandoned, I had a girl, hurrah, finally I could knit in all shades pink. The dark denim was put in the bottom of my stash box and forgotten about. This year my husband began to drop stronger hints about his lack of hand-knitted garments. I was knitting for everyone else it seemed but nothing for him. I pointed out that at 6ft 2" and of a rugby type build it would be rather expensive to knit for him but still he kept muttering. I remembered the blanket. I was never going to finish it and once ripped there would be nearly enough, I purchased a few more balls at a bargain price on Ebay and decided to keep my fingers crossed as regards dye lots. I let him leaf through the Rowan Denim People Book and this is what he chose.

I started in February. I hate this pattern. All these pockets are so fiddly and even with the use of stitch markers it is unbelievable how many times I miss that K2 in the middle of every purl row. I have abandoned the project in favour of other things at every possible opportunity and HIS mutternings have grown. So, when the new Rowan arrived I decided enough was enough, guilt at this project is beginning to keep me awake at night, I will knuckle down and get on with it and in fact this new burst of activity has me past the halfway mark now and I am beginning to feel a little better about it.

But I did just have to quickly cast on for this the other day.....

Thursday, August 03, 2006


My garden is still managing to surprise me inspite of the lack of rain, look at these lovely beans. All my own work, (well actually I had a lot of child assistance), grown from seed. I think they are rather beautiful and they taste good too, the very best part is that the children think they are delicious too. This is nothing short of a miracle where Dylan is concerned as he is a firm follower of the Atkins diet. He doesn't mind a bit of fruit but vegetables are to be suffered not enjoyed. I think finally I may have converted him and he has now discovered the joys of fresh picked peas eaten in the garden, straight from the pod. He didn't believe me when we planted them, but he has been persuaded and now can't resist picking a pod on his way past.

My ground preparation was rather slack, take it from me, this is a stony plot, I got tired of removing stones and the children became less enthusiastic when the temperatures began to dip below 5 degrees so I'm afraid the carrots are perhaps not as traditionally pretty as they might be, but they can't be beaten for humour.

I give you "The Orange Trousers", our version of a Dr Zeus classic.

My other homegrown success this week was, Dylan, who turned seven yesterday. He has asked to go camping for his birthday so looks like we are off to Shell Island tomorrow, although we do have a "weather pending" get out clause...