Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Me Made May 2016

So here we are in May and I am taking part in the Me-Made-May challenge again. Like last year, I am promising to wear at least one home made piece of clothing every day throughout the month. It should be easier than last year as I have more clothes to chose from but I am hoping it will highlight those that are most useful, and also those that rarely get worn and why. May is a good month for this as the variable weather gives me a good chance to try all types of clothing. So far this month we've had heavy rain, hailstones, cold winds and bright sunshine!
I shall try to record each day's outfit mainly as a reminder to me, but so far the lighting has not been great when I've taken the photos so the quality is a bit rubbish. It also give me a chance to catch up on recording some outfits which I've made in the last couple of months but have been too lazy to blog about!

Day 1
A simple tunic in a ponte style fabric - very comfy to wear but the fabric is stating to bobble a bit. Worn with my newly knitted wrist warmers which are based on the Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. I love these - they really keep you warm without the bother of a cardigan. I've already made a second pair and more are planned!

Day 2

One of my most worn makes - the pattern is New Look 6340 and I have made three versions so far and will probably make more! I love the simple shape and its layering possibilities. Worn with a little scarf knit with one skein of gorgeous Skein Queen - possibly my favourite yarn to knit with. And under a pair of boots were my hot off the needles socks - the yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners and were supposed to be my Christmas knit but they had to wait until April!

Terrible photo of another New Look 6340 - this time with sleeves. This is after a day of work, hence the crumpled look!

Today I'm wearing a hand knit cardi ( I don't wear this very often because the vibrant green is hard to pair with anything other than black). A black linen top which started life as a dress but was hardly worn, so when I needed a black top I just chopped it off and re-hemmed it. And the cropped trousers were my first attempt at making trousers - they were cast aside as disastrous, but during a tidy up I found them crumpled up and decided to see if I could salvage them. I cropped the leg length and to my surprise found them quite wearable!

On a more artistic note, I've had a clear out and tidy up of the studio and in a bid to be more organised for this year's Frome Open Studios in July I have started a sequence of linocuts. I have two completed and two more nearing completion. Next up is the fun part which is experimenting with hand colouring some of the prints. This doesn't always work out but the joy of printmaking is that if it doesn't go according to plan you've always got more of the original image.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A tale of two scarves...

Scarf No 1 -
Knit on 9mm needles using 5 skeins of Debbie Bliss Paloma.
Time taken - 3 evenings.

Scarf No 2 -
Knit on 2.5mm needles using 2 random skeins of 3ply lurking in my stash.
Time taken so far - 4 hours.

Conclusions -
1. I hate using big needles almost as much as I hate knitting moss stitch. The finished scarf is, however, gorgeously soft and squishy and warm and I love it so it was worth 3 evenings of annoying knitting.
2. I love, love, love using tiny needles and variegated yarn. This scarf is possibly going to take the rest of my natural life span to finish but I don't care because I'm loving the process.

Friday, 19 February 2016

When things don't go according to plan...

Lately my creative pursuits have hit a number of brick walls.

A lace weight knitting project was going swimmingly until I spotted an error that I can't work out how to fix and so it lies unloved and ignored in a bag.

A pair of trousers I was sewing were looking good until I made an adjustment to narrow them in the hips and now I can't get my hands in the pockets and they're lying in a heap waiting for their waistband.

A shirt I made for myself looked lovely until I tried it on and I realised that the buttons were straining to come undone in a most inappropriate area - now I've lost interest in adapting the pattern even though I have some gorgeous fabric patiently waiting to become a shirt.

I spent three whole days working on a new painting of a wood pigeon and was almost finished when I decided to use an acrylic glaze to seal it - it reacted to the paint underneath and the whole thing was ruined - at this point I may have cried.

I have no photos of these disasters as I didn't want to depress myself so instead I've included some photos of the pop up shop I'm involved in at the moment...

It's taking place in Studio 4 in The Black Swan, Frome and will be on until the 27th February. The photos are not great but we've managed to pack a lot into a small space. There are 5 of us taking part (known collectively as The Keyford Artisans) so there's a good variety of hand made crafts on offer.

Following my disastrous week or two I only managed to add one new painting to my collection - another raven...

and also enjoyed whipping up a few crocheted daisies for some more bunting...

When in doubt, go back to the things you can rely on - in my case, crochet and crazy birds!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

A New Year and a new skirt...

...and it's crocheted!
I've often thought that the qualities of crochet that make it hard to create most wearable items - it's bulk and density and lack of drape - actually make it perfect for a simple skirt. However, when I first mooted the idea of making a crocheted skirt over a year ago, most of my work colleagues were sceptical, to say the least! Nevertheless, when I saw a pattern in Simply Crochet that I liked I bought some yarn, did a sample motif and then promptly put it all in bag and forgot about it. I think I was put off from putting so much time into a project that may be completely unwearable. This Christmas, though, in looking for something to do over the holidays, I came across the bag and decided just to go for it - and yesterday I wore it to work!

I teamed it with an all black ensemble hoping to blend into the background and not be mocked for wearing a blanket but the response was positive - even my most doubting of colleagues made encouraging noises!

Having had a good clear out of my wardrobe, I now have more handmade clothes than shop bought. My aim for this year is to continue to make as much as possible and particularly to make well fitting trousers. I'm definitely won't be crocheting those though!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

New Yarn...

I have enough yarn - I know this because during a sleepless night last week (a late night coffee three months after almost completely giving up coffee - mistake!) I decided to go through my stash and match it to patterns. I found yarn I don't remember ever acquiring. I found yarn that deserves to be made into something rather than languishing unloved in a box. I found yarn that had been bought for specific patterns and yarn that was bought just because I liked it. I have enough yarn.

And yet...
I work in a fabulous yarn shop and they keep getting gorgeous new yarns. I try to resist but I am weak - resistance is futile.
I seek out yarn shops when we go anywhere - when visiting a yarn shop it would be rude not to buy anything.

And so...
This week I have added to my stash with not one, not two, not three, not four, but five new skeins/balls. However, I'm sure I can justify all of them...

From Marmalade Yarns I got Christmas sock yarn - because it's almost Christmas and I need socks.

I also got 3 skeins of Socks Yeah! because the colours are gorgeous and they would make some beautiful stripy fingerless mitts and I have a stripy fingerless mitt pattern just begging to be used. They would also make a beautiful fairisle hat and I have a fairisle hat pattern that is also begging to be used. Decisions will have to be made.

From Oxford Yarn Store (discovered during a lovely weekend jaunt to Oxford) I bought this beautiful green Aran because I don't have much Aran and I don't have much green and I want to make another pair of cabled fingerless mitts and I think they'd look nice in green.

I made these grey mitts with leftover yarn from the crocheted poncho - the jury's still out on that one but I do like the mitts.

See - easily justified. Now I just need to find the time to finish current wips before starting these...

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Channelling my inner granny!

Despite eldest son using MY sewing room as HIS bedroom during the long summer break from uni, I have managed to churn out a few makes over the last few weeks. My aim is to develop a mostly homemade wardrobe and I'm pleased to have found a couple of dress patterns that I love and plan to make multiple times - more of those in another post (the trouble with having a long break from blogging is there's too much to catch up on when you return!). However, one project that languished in my crochet basket throughout the summer was a crochet top from a rather beautiful Japanese pattern book.

I'd had a John Arbon 3ply yarn in my stash for a while, waiting for a suitable project and decided to match it to this pattern. As the instructions are in Japanese I had no idea what weight of yarn was used originally but a sample motif looked about the right size so I ploughed on. I prefer to work from charts so deciphering the pattern wasn't hard but I had reservations throughout that this wasn't going to work - the Japanese model is very petite and I am most definitely not! Also, it's styled so beautifully in the book which makes it look fresh and modern whereas mine was simply looking like something my Granny might have worn - not the look I was aiming for! However, having it lying there, half done, was annoying me so I bit the bullet this week and just forced myself to finish it. The jury is still out on whether it looks stylish and original or hideous and dated! I also haven't decided whether to put a cord around the neck as per the pattern (too bed jackety?), put a single button on the top, or wear it open like a shawl with sleeves. Option 4, of course, is never to let it see the light of day!

Not learning from this episode I have now started a crocheted poncho - it seems I really am a girl of the 70's after all!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Summer Lull

The Summer holiday is whizzing along and although I love the change in routine I find I don't use the time so much for making and painting, but for planning. I did manage to whizz up a little shawlette with a single skein of some beautiful Skein Queen 4ply that I've had for about a year, and I finally made my husband the shirt I've been promising him for ages...

I was particularly pleased with the shirt and enjoyed making it slowly and carefully. I've already promised eldest son one for his graduation next year and may well make hubby another one for Christmas. 

I have two knitting projects and three crochet projects on the go and plans for more chicken paintings in the Autumn. In the meantime I'm having a good old sort out of my studio so that when two eldest boys go back to uni and peace is restored then I'll be ready to go!