Styna, Munchkin and Bones!

Styna, Munchkin and Bones!
Mischief Managed!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wedding Embroidery

A few weeks ago me and my Mr attended the wedding of two of my old school friends - I wrote about how much fun it was in my other blog. I wanted to make something a bit special for them (and I'm assuming I've left enough time for them to have opened it now, post honeymoon :) ) so I turned to blackwork. I first started to experiment with blackwork for a workshop at the craft club and I loved the strength of the patterns and the boldness of the lines. So, I had a hunt for an appropriately elegant embroidery pattern, and came up with this one, which I found at the awesome Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread, and which the Mr resized for me (me being technically impractical). Not your standard blackwork pattern, but I liked it a lot so I traced, outlined and sewed it (one thread of black cotton, if you're interested) on some 28 count linen I had left over from my big celtic knot design, and added some fancy lettering.

When I'd finished the design and sat back to have a look at it, it looked great as it was, and blackwork would have made it too busy, so I decided to blackwork the lettering instead. Big mistake! It was like trying to read a magic eye picture, so I settled for satin stitch, which worked really well. So in the end, it wasn't really blackwork (even though it's all in black), but what it turned out to be is pretty. It's funny how you can start out on a project with a clear direction for it and have it take you in an entirely different direction - and for such a small project this one proved to be a huge learnign curve in terms of design and balance. I think it turned out pretty well, all told.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Works in Progress, April '11 (part the third)

And finally... technically these two aren't yet started, since the yarn only arrived today, but I need to get them done sharpish as I'm trading them for artwork from this lovely lady at Easter :) Battlestar Mandala Hat - this hat will be based on the mural painted on Starbuck's wall from Battlestar Galactica, the pattern for which was made by QuirkyKnitGirl and lives here. I think this one will be a bit of a challenge, but I'm raring to go! The yarn which I eventually found here, knits up beautifully, and the colours are stunning :) Ma Cobb's Firefly Hat - Who can forget the touching gift Jayne's Mum sends him in Firefly? I know we can't in our house. My Mr made one of these a few years ago, but couldn't track down the Lopi yarn (which lives here), and settled for brown and black instead of Ma Cobb's original colourscheme - suits him though (see below). The pattern for this one was put together by Emisanboo (a crafter after Ma Cobb's heart), and lives here. My Mr, in his Jayne Cobb hat, on the way to the Isle of Mann.

Works in Progress, April '11 (part the second)

To continue my guilty conscience WIP posts...

Sock project #4. As I said in an earlier post, I'm terrible for getting bored or distracted halfway through something, particularly socks. I've been wearing this one with the other completed sock that has no partner. Before you ask, yes I have finished a pair of socks, two pairs in fact, and I'm sure I'll post about them in dues course :) Cetlic Blackwork Round - this one was started for a Craftiness workshop, which worked pretty well, despite the low turnout. I really like the look of blackwork, and I love to try different kinds of embroidery. I'm considering unpicking one of the sections of fill though, looks a bit too busy. I should be paying more attention to my Mum's advice of a few years ago and 'making use of the white space :) Patchwork cushion covers - I've made a few of these already, and I suspect they'll shortly be the subject of another post, but I still have a few to finish off. I'm intending to sell them, but the ones I've finished already have made great gifts! Butterfly Cross Stitch - I started this one in the summer and this is how far I've got :) I find cross stitches really relaxing, so it will come as no surprise when I tell you I have two more in progress (but those are in the attic). Well, three (but only because that one needs framing). Well, five, if you count the one's that are still in their packets. *sigh*. I need to get stitching...

Works in Progress, April '11 (part the first)

So, I recently had a bit of a spring clean and discovered that I have way too many half-finished projects. I put quite a few in the attic for later on, but here are the ones I found room for downstairs... I think I may challenge myself to finish them. At least one a month until the end of the year, or I'm not allowed anything new... I'd better get crafting!

These mad little fimo monsters are part of an alternative chess set I'm working on... I'm mostly saving up for some thin acetate to use as a board, so this one depends on funds (and therefore won't be done for some time).

This is the first of (believe me when I say 'many') many part-finished sock projects. The pattern for this one came from a knitting magazine (no idea which one, which is partly why it's still only two inches long) and is called 'Blackberry'. It's also how I learned to cable, which wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be :)

Ok, sock project #2. This pattern is the standard one that comes with all the opal sock yarns - I'm good at that one. Though as you'll no doubt notice, I tend to get fed up of one colour and immediately start on a new one (hence the number of sock projects).

Sock project #3. This sock is a NQS (a not-quite-sock) and for some reason that I can't recall I've removed the needles at some point (silly old bean). I'm intending to frog this back to the heel and start the foot part again - this was my first attempt at lace, which i am enjoying, despite the maths involved, but I neglected to remember how uncomfortable lace is underfoot being as I haven't had lacy socks since I was in Primary School. This is another case of misplaced pattern as it happens, though I have all the important bits except the name, but I know who it was by and that is was from Knitty.

These two balls of yarn are to become a stunning shawl, called Bitterroot (also from Knitty). The yarn, which is gorgeous, is Sea Silk by Handmaiden yarns and is soft, silky and in stunning colours; it's also part Seacell, which if you haven't googled already, I'd suggest you do now. I suspect this project will elicit a wide range of swearing, particularly as it will only be my third lace project and the yarn is quite slippy, but we'll see.

Eazzy Bees

This is a really old bit of craft, but I haven't worn them for a while, and the sun is out today, so here are the bees!

I was having a bit of a go at freeform wirework two or three years ago, and not really concentrating when all of a sudden these two buzzed into life. Since it was so long ago, I can't remember the guage of the wire used, or where the beads came from, but I can remember that it was sliver plated jewellery wire, and that I probably got both guages from Hobbycraft.

I started off with a thicker guage wire (for argument's sake, let's say 1mm) and made the body of my bee. First, I made a tight ring around my smooth nosed pliers - both to hold my first beads in place and as a handing winding point for later on. I threaded a yellow and orange bead onto this bit and made a right angled bend in the wire, then another after about another centimetre. On went another bead or two - black this time - followed by two more right angled bends (the bit with the beads should look like a really blocky 's'); I threaded on three more yellow / orange beads and made one last right angled bend (this time going back over the 's'). Using the smooth nosed pliers, I shaped the wire into the back end of the bee - I found that a blocky, cartoon style worked for me - and shaped the wire around the bottom of the bee (under the blocky 's'). The wire was then pulled upwards in a fairly smooth curve to form the bees 'nose'; two more tight rings with the smooth nosed pliers to form the eyes and the body of the bee was complete.

Next, I took thinner wire (let's say 0.5mm) and tightened the joins on the body of the bee, particularly around the initial tight ring, the horizontal parts of the blocky 's' and the eyes. Then I attached a length of the thinner wire to the upper middle of the body (between the first two rows of beads) and formed two elongated loops for the wings; these were then wound around the upper body to secure them. Finally, I attached earring findings to the top of the wings; I chose to have my bees facing opposite directions, but it's really up to you.

I think it took me about an hour to finish them both, but I suspect it would have been quicker if I hadn't been gossiping with the fabulous girls at the UBU Society for Craftiness :) We were making stuff to sell at the May Carnival, but I didn't want to part with these beauties, and have been wearing them ever since! (Which is why they look a wee bit bashed).

Granny Square Baby Bonnet

Just a quick shout out to Krystyna (of Star Blanket fame) who made me drool over her newest creation yesterday - just look at that scalloping! I'm still massively jealous of her skill with the hook :)

Knitted Sweetheart Neck Sweater (aka, the big green jumper of awesome)

I've been working on the big green jumper of awesome for a while now, in between writing masters projects, attending trials and finding work; the first year of life of this jumper has been quite a year. One of my big problems when it comes to craft is that I have a tendency to get bored part way through a project and get absorbed into another - i'm working on this, it would be nice to get more stuff finished instead of having bags of half finished projects around.

Still, the jumper's finished now, and I love it - just in time for the first really warm day of the year, naturally - but because of the sweetheart neck it's perfect for those chilly evenings that take you by surprise after the first throes of summer. I got the pattern from a tiny knitting shop in Stafford (Knits and Needles) way back when I was still a placement student (which is a slightly horrificly long time ago now) and therefore the last time I was paid for work before this part-time thing at a soap shop I'm working on. It was in Twilleys Freedom Yarn too, which I've always wanted to work with and not had an excuse to - it knits up beautifully, as it turns out, and the varigation looks lovely. I remember thinking, 'I'll put this away for when I'm poor and don't have a project going', and it worked :) last christmas I found it in a blanket chest at home and was delighted at my own ingenuity (I had completely forgotten about it). I dug out my bits and pieces, as shown below, and got to it.

Now the early part of last year was complete hell, which I won't go into here, but having a juicy jumper project at my fingertips was a big help, and I managed to get the back done fairly quickly, but when it came to the front I managed to thoroughly confuse myself. It was no fault of the pattern, which I've since realised makes perfect sense, but my own ability to tangle my brain up into knots. I got to the point where I had to put it away for a while. A long while, as it turned out, partly because of the massive amount of work I was doing for the masters, and partly because we moved house and it went to live in the blanket chest again. I rediscovered it in early March and figured out that I was being dim about the front (which turned out to be so much easier than I thought *facepalm*). I've been working on it on and off (in between trying to write novels and fanfiction) in the evenings and this weekend I finally got it done - though I'm still not entirely sure I got the neckline right, but I like the way it turned out, even if I'm wrong. That's part of the joy of crafting :D

I'm dead impressed with myself, particularly as my only other jumper was a bit pants. There was a bit of a saga with the blocking and making up, partly because I've never blocked before (actually, I still haven't, taking my mother's advice of "who has the space / time?". Seems ok *shrugs*.) and partly because all the sewing up guides I found had very useful diagrams for sewing together everything except two diagonals. I eventually raided my ancient and much loved copy of The Marshall Cavendish Complete Guide to Needlecraft, which I rescued out of a skip at the back of the old textiles department in second year (I mean, really! Throwing out a book!), where I was advised to back stitch any seams that weren't overtly listed. I should really have looked there first, seeing as it's my craft bible, but it currently lives with the rest of my craft library under my printer and is therefore a bit of maul to get at.

Anyway, after a year of not really getting much done (you know, except the masters and moving house and finding a job) it was a wonderful feeling to finally finish something off - and have it turn out so nicely. Which it did, don't you think?