Admitting that a particular Idea is not of the Good variety is hard. BUT, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of the Different-Sized-Squares-Blanket-Idea comes...bingo! Same-Sized-Squares-Blanket-Idea! After working out that I'd need to do, um, a lot of working out in order to make the different-sized granny squares fit together into any semblance of blanket-shape (and not Abomination shape) I decided to add a few rounds to each and be dull and practical.
I can't bear sitting and working things out when it comes to knitting or crochet. I like mindless, therapeutic, stress-free yarn craft. Hence I've never managed to graduate past Grade 1 sock knitting (I passed with a distinction in Stocking Stitch). I can't concentrate on the inimitably witty dialogue in Corrie (sadly bereft of Blanche of course) if one of my lobes is wrestling with the 'beauty' of symmetry and other mathematical horrors. I can't follow subtitles if I'm fiddling about with cables and counting rows. So same-sized squares it had to be.
Excuse the poor light. (brought to you courtesy of the last tungsten filament bulbs in the house). Even the dog is unimpressed. ("I'm positively sallow! The horror! Get me into Make-Up now!")
After hours and hours of crocheting squares, I then had to find a way to join them together. I couldn't bear sewing (a bit like: never mix the grape and the grain. Never mix the sewing needle and the crochet hook) so I hooked them together. It took me right through the Christmas holidays and into the New Year but here it is, finished, looking more like itself than it did under the tungsten light (hmm, I know the feeling):
It's in the snow in our back garden, although it looks like a magic floating blanket due to my impeccable skills in photography. Talking of snow, (and poor photography!) the only good thing I've found about it is that it's brought these into our garden:
It's a redwing! I usually only get to see these and their pals Fieldfares out in the distant fields in winter, but the snow's covered up their usual food supply and both have been forced to the Hamnett Bird Restaurant (an extensive menu featuring niger seeds and apples. Book a table early to avoid disappointment). I've been transfixed. My dyeing table is right next to the window so I've been spending lots of time bird-spotting in the warmth (the best type of bird watching!). Here's my fave from this week's dyeing session:
Carnival. It's so bright and cheerful...I want to cast it on now! The dyeing table is calling again so I'd better go and get some more bird watching more dyeing done now...!
I hope you're all finding time to snuggle beneath your knitting or crochet...I'll be hooking a blanket to keep the cold out over Christmas anyway. Pictures to follow when I can locate the camera... Here's wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a fab New Year!(just behind our house looking towards Clutton Church. Brrrrrr!)
Uh-oh, I've been experimenting again. Like a mad creative scientist. What usually happens is a kind of creative mania where I grab anything and everything in the house to do with the particular idea and just pile it up in the living room (where I do most work in the evenings) and then sit with it. Or sit on it. (and eventually even work on it. ha!) Take this for instance.
It's Frankencanvaswerk! Ooh I have grand plans for it. Trouble is, the grandiosity of the plan didn't quite match the nature of the fabric.
This is 25 count evenweave, hand-dyed by yours truly. And then painstakingly stitched on, for what seemed like hours (through the Friday Night Play, and two episodes of Mark Steel's Solution no less) only to send me spiralling into eyestrain and a humongous headache. Thanks, evenweave, I love you too! I was a little over-ambitious, I think. I wanted to create spirals as well as squares, you see, and I chose a teeny tiny thread count so the spirals would be more, um, spirally when worked in tent stitch. Mishtake! The sample below that looks like a box of run-over shreddies, well, that's about a 10 count. Easier on the eyes, anyway. But very very brown of background.
You see, I fell in love with these Ehrman kits but I wanted to design my own (I know! why choose the easy option marked 'add to basket' when you can spend hours giving yourself a headache over 25 count evenweave?). So I am really having a go, but haven't quite cracked it. I'm sure I'll get there, and my wrapped-thread shreddie wallhanging will be ready for the living room wall!
Having time to experiment is such a luxury so I took full advantage of it and got the Procion dyes out for some cottons and velvets:
I love the results. The velvet is cotton-based so not quite as shiny as I wanted it to be:
I think I need viscose velvet for the shiny-shiny effect, but apart from that I do love the other bits of cotton fabric I scrunched up and dyed. (glamorously, in a plastic cup!)
I managed a (warning! lame pun alert!) stab at needle felting too :) An embellishing machine is just a distant dream for me, so I've been using a Clover Felting Tool which is surprisingly quick. And it's good therapy if you've had a bad day, all that punching ;)
Not a great pic but you get the idea (the problems of early afternoon darkness!!). This piece has a bit of gold free-machine embroidery on too. I didn't bother with the special Clover felting brush - I used an old nylon bristle hairbrush! One day I'll have saved up for a posh machine then I'll be felting everything in sight. I for one can't wait to see the results of that particular experiment... ;)
Phewph! well, that was a bit of a blogging hiatus, wasn't it? I've been busy in a whirlwind of creativity though - honest. Firstly, I've been knitting lots of these:
They're Fetching gloves and I keep knitting them for anyone and everyone...they could turn out to be the equivalent of that jumper which granny or auntie knits them and they don't like...but I can live with that! Mr Yaffle calls them 'Milkman Gloves' although I've not seen a milkman wear them...yet...
With the arrival of winter and hideous weather, the urge to crochet! blankets! Now! has come upon me, as it is wont to do. Trouble is, I usually end up not finishing them until the summer, which means I have to stick the blanket in a drawer until the following winter. Ahem. Exhibit A: a new collection of granny squares.
I know. They are of uneven size. That's deliberate. I have in my head an uneven, hotch-potched mosaic of a blanket, and I have no idea how it's going to work out. Plan it on graph paper? Where's the fun in that?! I prefer the plunge right in, mess it up, abandon the project and be left with a bunch of pan-holders approach myself. Wish me luck!
I've managed to finish one half of the Neverending Socks:
The yarn is similar to this one but it's not quite the same as mine's a mis-dye...(oh, and there's meant to be more yellow in there but the light is terrible here). Speaking of winter and knitting, does anyone else suffer from a lack of knitting in the summer months? I can't seem to get going on anything when it's the hot (scrub that: I mean mildly sunny) weather. But come the winter months - I can't get enough. Sock-tastic!
Apart from that I've been making small embroideries for greetings cards...
...this is something I've not done for such a long time as I lost a lot of confidence in my designs and didn't really have much time to get over that (*woes* teh agoniez) and get back into it (!!!). But I'm back on track now! They're made of recycled sari scraps, with shisha mirror and freestyle machine embroidery. Well, except the owl in the right-hand corner, who's made from appliqued bits of fabric :) When I get my act together I'll put some up in the shop or start an Etsy shop...but these four have already found a home!
And finally, it's been a long homecoming for Johnny the tortoise. I'm sorry, I'll read that again: And finally, in shop news...ta da!...I can now offer Gift Vouchers ! So you can get someone to treat you...or give someone the 'gift of yaffle yarn' this Christmas...:D The best thing too is they're E-vouchers, so you simply email them to your recipient, thus avoiding the nightmare of the Christmas post! Full of Win!
I've been chained to my old pal Jones again this week. Mostly making bags for the shop (they're up now, have a look!).
When I sew, I have very bad habits. There's the not putting the spare sewing feet back in the tin, not putting the sharp snippety scissors back where I can find them, leaving stuff on the floor (more about that some other time) ...oh, and this:
Pincushion, meet pins. Pins, here you go, it's your friend the pincushion. Now why can't you two get along nicely? Why can't you pins find your way back to the pincushion instead of a) dropping inside the sewing machine b) dropping onto the floor point-up so I step on you c) drop onto my dress so I stand up and drop pins on the floor and then step on them while they're point up d) disappear. I swear I must go through a pinmaking factory's entire output for a year in this house. I have no idea where they end up. Oh, except when I stand on them.
Another bad habit is this:
Can't. Throw. Things. Away. Which is how I came to have this (oh wonderful 35p IKEA plastic) box of scraps. Oh, there's more. There's an attic full of similar boxes of scraps. There's a floorboard-groan-inducing curator's dream of a fabric collection in this house. "But!" I say. "It might come in really handy!" And I keep it. Even if it's only big enough to fashion a gnat's loincloth from.
Apparently, I am capable of some good sewing habits though. There aren't many of them. But I like my threads organised. It's chaos enough round here without having to hunt under endless boxes of fabric for the right thread. So I use a set of old transparency/slide drawers with the dividers taken out:
And the spare dividers (the numbered bits of wood you can see in the picture) I put in the top drawer so I could use it for bobbins:
The numbers don't mean anything! I am not that organised!! I love the drawers. I think they were old medical teaching slide drawers because when Mr Yaffle brought the treasure home, in one of the drawers at the back there was a slide of some poor unfortunate soul's leg...! Bleargh!
Apart from all these high-jinks I've managed to get my camera out on some walks. Doesn't happen that often because I haven't mastered the art of simultaneous lead-and-camera holding. Maybe there's a course I could go on :) Anyway, here are some fields that had caught my eye during this week's walks.
I love these stripy turnip fields. The colours! The stripyness!! The undulation! It's just asking to be turned into embroidered form! Isn't it?! I think I'm going to have to make a few more bags and get dyeing before I can justify the time spent on such a project but we'll see...Right. I'm off to dislodge a pin from my foot...
Yaaarrrrrrrrn! Here's a sneak preview of this month's update...they're drying on the line in the garden:
There are some scary bright orange and black ones too, but they're cooking in a cauldron at the moment. I'm hoping the update will go up some time next week unless there's an attack of the Thyroids, in which case, send help!
When not dyeing, I've been sewing quite a bit lately. I love sewing! I can't get enough of it at the minute. First there were the cushions (strip patchwork. No straight lines, no measuring, no stress!):
Then there was the embroidery...(click for bigger)
This is another one of the hogweeds I've been embroidering (not quite finished!). It's all done on the sewing machine and it's a bit bigger than the ones I did last time, about 10cm across. I'm hoping to get an exhibition together one day, or get a gallery to start selling the pieces. Hmmm. Eventually!
Meanwhile, autumn continues apace out there in the garden...
Sigh. Lovely lovely autumn! Right, better go and check on the skeins in that cauldron before they boil dry! eep!
We all went for an autumnal walk in Priddy Mineries the other day. Here's the view from the top of the hill:
We usually stick to the paths, but you don't see much wildlife up close that way (the Mineries site is an SSSI and has so much stuff to see), so we went for a little diversion and waded through the knee-deep grass. Look what we found...
This is a fox-moth caterpillar (I think!). I've never seen a caterpillar so furry! We found that in the grass, along with some Devil's-bit scabious:
and then, as I was leaping (urgh, bit energetic, that!) from one tussock to the other, I looked round and saw this:
An Adder! I'm rather glad I spotted it before Dylan decided to sniff/lick/paw it. I've never, ever seen an adder before in my life. This one, I think, is a female, resting in the grass...not that clued up about snake habits, but I'm guessing the warm spell had brought it out to bask. I got fairly close so I could take this pic, but the moment she heard the shutter go, she turned round and hissed at me, unsurprisingly!
It was like all my birthdays had come at once, spotting that. (yikes, that phrase, when you think about it, would make you really old. I've just turned 'old enough' thanks)
After Priddy, I got around to experimenting with some reverse lens macro techniques with my camera. Basically, if you can't afford a macro lens, you can (literally) reverse the lens on your SLR (thanks, Mim for telling me this!!) and take close-ups that way. I'm not really an expert, but this wasn't bad for a first try. There are poppies out in the garden at the moment, and this is as close as a normal lens will get me:
But when I reversed the lens, I could get a little bit closer:
Then I thought I'd have a go at the flowers on the mock strawberry:
OMG, that's all I need, another hobby to get carried away with. Watch this space for some more fascinating yet ultimately pointless macro photographs :D
Finally in today's Autumnwatch, here's a squirrel visitor, who's been busy burying his/her stash of cobnuts from our tree. Believe it or not we don't get squirrels so often in our garden so I'm always way too over-excited (along with the dog) when we get one!
I have yet to find a way of turning my existing camera lens into a super-zoom lens. Damn!
Ooh, anyone been watching the Tweedy documentaries? [the link is to all three: watch them if you missed it, it's great] Very interesting...but I do wish they'd make a documentary on Welsh Tapestry. Tweed's nice enough and all that (and the programmes were fascinating)...but I'm desperate to find out more about Welsh Tapestry. Maybe I'll start a fan club and make my own programme :)
Thanks for all your nice messages and emails by the way. I'm getting better thank you! Hurrah, now I can stop discussing thyroids at great length and get back to craft blogging :D
That's right, folks! I've won my own invented sad an award because I've been a neglectful little blogger. From Twee Cereals, the cereal that has a Lovely Personality! I don't know about you but I can't face That! Much! Lovely Personality! from a Sodding Cereal! In a Morning! Once your cereal starts talking to you, you know it's time to go back to Blandflakes...(Imagine a world where, eventually..."Hello! I'm your morning cup of coffee! I get the feeling you're a little angry this morning! Aw, Don't Be! life is so beautiful, don't you know! Look! I have no dust! Look! I'm so organic and fairtrade I even make myself feel a bit sick with my own self-righteousness! Drink Me!" ...continued on p.899, appendix II. Where's my sodding coffee?)
During this month or more of absence, what have I been up to? You might well ask. Well, I have been struggling, sysyphus-like, against the mighty Thyroid, mostly. If you've ever struggled beneath the weight of an elephant whilst trying to walk through treacle, wearing lead-lined boots, and waving ten copies of Flora Brittanica in each hand, this gives you a good idea of what an underactive thyroid does to you. Ha, it makes you really, REALLY weird! Ahem. Anyway, I'm a bit better now. Earlier on in the month, due to elephants and stuff, I was confined to the sofa though so I did quite a lot of this when I could lift the needles :) :
I frogged the orange one because it was just too curly. I can't make stocking stitch stay straight. I love it for making tubes (socks, jumpers, cardigans) and things that need to curl (um, curly things), but for scarves, well, I just can't make it work. The pink scarf also curls like mad (despite rigorous blocking) so I've just hooked a load of heavy crochet round the edges which at least makes it wide enough to shelter my neck from the prevailing winds. Before that you could've used it as a hose pipe.
No matter how crap you feel, the dog always needs walking, so we've been on some slow walks! However, it's forced me to get out and about and see a bit of nature, and I've been collecting umbellifers - hogweeds and wild carrots and all that - and drawing inspiration from them like countless embroiderers before me. When I had a few days of energy I even managed to do some actual embroidery...
The Two New Pence is just there as a scale guide. Unless you're into 2p pieces, in which case then, it's a part of the embroidery. I've dyed some silk for a few embroideries I have in mind. I haven't dyed any fabric since my (abandoned. Sob.) City & Guilds so this was fun!
Another inspiration has been trees and landscapes of course...
And here's what I came up with.
Ha! nothing like the photos but that's not quite how I work :) Again they're about the size of your two New Pence. I was always reprimanded at school for working in miniature (I mean in Art lessons. I don't mean I tried doing rounders with a subbuteo ball, although tempting. Nor did I work with a teeny tiny dolly's chemistry set. Miniature essays in history were a surprising failure also), but it was how I worked best. All I've used is embroidery thread, hand-dyed silks and my old Jones machine. You can drop the feed dogs inside it instead of having to use a silly plate thingy so that makes life easier. I used felt as a stabiliser, and worked without a hoop - I can't work with a hoop but have to watch my fingers like a hawk! Anyway, I might cobble together a collection of stuff and sell it on Etsy or in the shop or something. I haven't really done any free-motion stuff for a long time, mainly due to having a crappy modern machine which had an inaccessible bobbin tension system (tech fans!) so it's a relief to be up and running with it again :) Watch this space for more miniscule embroidery. I think I'll leave the miniature out of the yarn side of my creative endeavours though!
Butterflies! Nooooo not the Wendy Craig sitcom (btw - if you know it, I am as good a cook as Ria if ever you fancied popping round for tea. No? oh. shame that.) - these pretty insects! (click to see it bigger like)
For fact fans: L-R starting with top left: Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Cabbage White, Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Peacock.
I love butterflies. Can you tell? We have a massive, overgrown buddleia in the garden, and every time Mr Yaffle goes out with his pruning equipment I always run across the lawn flapping about and yelling out for him not to chop it. At all. It's covered in butterflies every year and I love it. I don't care if it's grown over the path, through the shed roof, over the allotments and into Council Complaint territory, the butterflies love it. I think they must get drunk on the nectar, as they stay still long enough for me to get really close with the camera. Unlike this creature which I snapped when I was out on the dog walk this morning:
A deer! You can make it out, can't you? I know I'm no Simon King but the zoom on my point-and-shoot seemed to capture it. Ish...I must've been 200 yards away (hey! that's nearly half a skein of yarn!).
Away from naturewatch and in yarny news, I've been busy crocheting (non-crochet fans look away now!).
It's for my pal Rosie (helloooo!!) who's expecting a mini hooman bean fairly soon. I've almost finished it, just a few more rows and all the ends to weave in. It's a ripple pattern from this book - I think it looks like a helter-skelter!
And here it is just before the dog came and lay on it. (only joking...it'll be free of Dylan hair, honest). Although keeping my dog off the best drapes, the newspaper, an open book, the naked sofa (get a cover on it! get a cover on it! it'll be covered in paw marks!!), new bedclothes, new jeans, new clothes, best suits, new doormats, fabric laid out for pattern cutting - well, keeping him off anything is an art in itself. With treats for bribery and a cunning plan known as 'putting my work back in the basket' I've managed to keep him off this blanket so far...paws crossed I can keep it up!