Friday, 14 December 2012

Margaret's socks

Margaret's socks
Stitch markers
Finally finished my first pair of socks, knitting for my husband's grandmother.  Margaret is a very much beloved matriarch in her 90s, 3 children, 7 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and another on the way.  But what do you buy for someone who really doesn't need anything else?!  Margaret was once an avid knitter, our daughter has the most beautiful cardigans from birth right up until now, but it's now too much for her.  Last year it was a quilt, so this year was socks.  It combined my wish to try the unknown, knitting my first pair of socks, with the need to give her something knitted with the love we all have for her.  One of my favourite online shops, Rainbow Silks, does scrumptions Opal sock knitting kits which provide you with a set of 5 double pointed 2.5mm needles, the loveliest stitch markers I think I've ever seen, full easy to follow instructions and a ball of yarn.   The yarn is patterned so the pattern is about as simple as a pair of socks can be, a bit of double rib round the top with the rest in stocking stitch.  I ordered my kit with Opal's Schafpate IV #5483 which is spun from the wool of rare breed German Schafpate sheep and ordered a second ball for myself of Opal's Vincent Van Gogh in #5436: Gauguin's Stuhl (mit Kerze), or, in English, Paul Gaugin's Armchair With Candle.  If you look at the yarns you'll realise why it too me simply hours to choose!  Despite my worries I turned my first heel and hope she loves them as much as I do.  £7.99 sounds a lot but you only need one ball per set and there's some left over.  And they feel lovely.  Now darling child wants a pair...

Monday, 15 October 2012

Chakras and my voice

I have two friends who are dead into Reiki,  I don't understand how or why it works but it does.  When I acted as guinea pig (with no reluctance at all!) a few weeks ago they found that my throat chakra was blocked but my crown chakra was wide open.  I've had time to reflect on this and it does correspond with my current feelings of frustration.  Sahasrara, the crown chakra, is concerned with connectedness to the universe, the mystical chakra connected to higher consciousness.  Basically I'm wired in to the universe, that figures.  On the other hand Vishuddha, the throat chakra, is to do with communication, fluent thought, growth through expression.  The block here means I am connected to the universe and have the vision I want but am unable to express it, and this is I am very well aware the source of a lot of my rage, fear and frustration.  To be able to see and not speak what I can see, to always be mediated through others who can speak it better than I can.  To be a ghost in my own life.  The only remedy is to do in the face of the difficult feelings is to keep keeping on and to embrace them.  My fear is my teacher.

I will create my book.  This will be a book collecting my journey, part diary.  I currently have a desk diary which I write in daily and staple in newspaper clippings, write in knitting patterns, but IT ISN'T WHAT I WANTED TO SAY!  I have so many words, what I think about the newspaper articles, why they mean something to me.  What I am knitting, stitching, seeing, how it feels to be doing that.  I want to speak of my train of thought, of events of the day without feeling self conscious and pretentious, oh, look at me, I think I'm Samuel Pepys, like what I have to say is important enough for everyone to hear.  I'm not a king or queen, I just need to speak, to hear my own voice.

My grandmother once gave me a book she'd created.  It is very simple.  The cover is two pieces of card joined by a spine of webbing, white paper glued over the inside of the end boards.  The pages consist of cut up pieces of lined paper with two holes punched in one side.  A lace is threaded through the holes and through eyelets punched through the back cover, so these can be tied and the pages easily added to.  My original thought had been to create a side bound book the same as Jan Messent's Celtic Influences book from her beautiful and inspiring Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery, a collection of illustrations of her multimedia books exploring different types of ancient British embroidery.  She uses four eyelets punched through the front and back of the book, but my grandmother's mean's the lacing doesn't show on the front.  Mine will be bigger, A4 in landscape.  So let's go...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Shetland gloves - 'almost too good to wear'

Left hand glove showing back and right hand glove showing palm
So said my friend Jim as I took these very beautiful gloves out for the first time this year.  I was biking into Dundee from Carnoustie, a not too hilly 11 mile ride with a number of alternatives on the route, and decided to wear these and being fingerless they are perfect for biking, but it was with a sense of trepidation that I unwrapped them from their tissue paper.  They made my outfit, it's not quite cold yet so I was wearing an a-line wool skirt with a grey poncho over the top and cavalry boots.  The bike helmet spoilt the look a little but needs must!

My mum bought these for me in Shetland and they are knitted in the undyed colours of the wool which vary from white through these delicate shades of brown and beige to black, the shading used in these gloves is just exquisite, and I'm not even sure whether I love the lattice work on the palm or the nordic star on the reverse more.  They smell vaguely and not unpleasantly of sheep and are a most cherished gift.  It's funny to think that wool from these hardy sheep was once a necessary staple, and is now a luxury!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Crochet - watch this space

The one thing I haven't tried which you think I would have is crochet.  Yesterday Caitlin taught me how to.  Book now on order from library, and I suppose I'll have to get used to my 8 going on 9 year old knowing more than me.  Though thanks to the current school project I do know a lot about wolverines, sea otters and bobcats...

Hannah's Austrian outfit

Hannah the Hedgehog sat on my shelf
When I was in hospital I sat and sewed an outfit for my daughter Caitlin's toy hedgehog.  3 years earlier on our last holiday to Austria I had made Hannah from a kit I bought in Jedburgh years earlier while staying with my best friend who had just moved to the Borders.  At the time we went into St Johann (im Tirol) where there is a good haberdashery shop and Caitlin and I chose fabric and buttons to make Hannah an Austrian outfit but never got round to it.

The fabrics and buttons are very typical, silver and wood are traditional materials used in Austria for buttons, the edelweiss (meaning pretty white flower!) was an obvious choice.  It should be noted that the mountain gentian, not the edelweiss, is the national flower of Austria.  It's not all Sound of Music!  These fabrics are very typical, complementary plains and stripes with lots of flower and leaf patterning.  In Austria clothes are very expensive and the traditional dresses with apron (dirndl) are often made from bought fabric so the St Johann shop always has a tasty choice.

So finally I was marooned and the action of hand rather than machine sewing was a wonderfully meditative one, like sewing Evie's quilt, getting each stitch just so.  It's like drawing, and if you're sewing people tend to come over and ooh and aah then leave you much alone.  I strongly believe the enforced downtime was a form of message and this luxury of time was deeply healing.

To hand sew I used cotton thread and what are known as betweens.  These are needles designed for hand quilting that are shorter and narrower than regular sharp needles which have a small eye, they make a lovely small neat stitch.  The fabric was all cotton and I added an apron which was just a rectangle of fabric pleated and held in place by being stitched into a band along the top.  A traditional Austrian dress is sleeveless with a usually white blouse worn underneath with puffy sleeves and lace around the neckline.  For Hannah's dress I adapted the attached sleeves to look like this by putting elastic in the cuffs so they pulled in and could be pushed up.  You can actually see from the picture where the same fabric was used 3 years apart.  When I made Hannah I lost one of the pieces for the base of her feet and cut a piece of replacement fabric from the green fabric I was going to use to make her dress.  Then I made the dress 3 years later!  Fabric choices and directional choices were all Caitlin's, pleasure and pleasedness all mine!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

My first Knit-a-Long (KAL)

My Bernat KAL
I finally finished my Bernat KAL and was very glad of it, I took it to Austria with me and it's softness was a great comfort when I was recovering like a Victorian lady in an alpine sanatorium!  It was a great experience, I like doing mystery quilts / blankets because it's quite often a pattern you wouldn't usually do or might be daunted by the thought of doing so much.  I ordered the wool directly from the United States and even with postage it was so reasonable, and I've got plenty of wool left over for gloves etc!  It is so nice to have something I made for myself, I do spend so much time creating for others.  Obviously my 8 year old tried to acquire it, but no chance!  It is a regular feature on my lap in the evenings and round my shoulders, especially as the season turns and the days begin to shorten and get colder here in Scotland.

The wool is Bernat's Waverley, an 100% acrylic Aran weight (US worsted weight) 180m/197yds to 100g/3.5oz.  Despite it (or maybe because it was?!) acrylic it is so soft, but you can't break it, it has to be cut with scissors.  I have tried.  The wool tension is 18 stitches and 24 rows to 10 by 10cm / 4" by 4" on 5mm (UK 6, US 8) needles on the band, but I knit loose so I found I needed to use 4.5mm (UK 7, US 7) needles after doing the tension swatch.

The colours I used were as follows, there are many beautiful photos on the Bernat KAL forum of the other combinations people used:
Beige #55615 Sun Drift
Green #55290 Turtle Green
Yellow #55640 Gypsy Gold
Pink #55425 Bitter Rose
Red #55435 Incense

My major issue was with the difference in tension between the sides of the squares.  The squares are quite big at around 9 inches and even with blocking and borders there was a lot of give in them.  But it is just the right size to wrap around you and feel hugged!

Fear and creativity

'To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong'

So says Joseph Chilton Pearce and it is the fear that has me frozen like a deer in headlights.  I see and want desperately to express how I see the world but feel so disappointed when I cannot, it is so hard at times to keep pushing on to reach that place of absorption where I'm lost in play and colour, to set myself aside.  My world, as ever, falls into the interstices between worlds.  I am not a scrapbooker, I find manufactured stamps and papers too restrictive and prescriptive.  As usual, I make things harder for myself by wanting to make my own papers, stamps and books.  Thankfully I have an ally in the wonderful Kirsty O'Connor and attended at half of her second course at Fran Marquis' studio in Arbroath (my fault, not hers!) the weekend before last.  I learned how to stitch papers into beautiful books and now am thoroughly hooked on the potential for journalling in completely my own way, set free from bound diaries and trying to work out how to stick bulky items like knitting swatches into them!

My Japanese bound sketchbook - a pattern called tortoiseshell
When we were on holiday in Austria this year I took with me two writing pads and some pages of coloured paper cut to the same size as the writing and wrote a daily diary of what was going on, collecting ephemera such as receipts, maps, flyers etc.  It turned into quite an unusual holiday diary when I fell ill one day in and was hospitalised on Friday the 13th (never superstitious before!) with pneumonia for four days, but I incorporated information about an illness I had never known anything about before.  It's still a work in progress, but when I can afford a paper drill I will bind it japanese style.

I taught my first Young Quilters workshop at the Regional Day in Perth last weekend making bunting, I didn't quite get the timing right and gave the kids too much to do, so my thoughts turn to the next one in March and the idea of creating books to contain samples.  I am currently finishing off a small embroidered panel, mostly french knots and stem stitch, which my husband gave me many years ago.  I have samples from workshops I have happily attended at the Festival of Quilts and the Knitting and Stitching Show, and a whole aida panel of blackwork.  I try to keep a diary of a quilt while I'm making it, because I'm really interested in the history of textiles and so often I would like to know how something was made and what the thought processes are.  I'd like to see the commercial patterns and threads that the person used, not just the finished article.  So I decided to create a sample book that would contain not just the pieces of sample work but also any commercial patterns and instructions.  For the next Regional Day this would mean creating simple covers with holes made with an eyelet puncher and lacing them together, so that pages can be inserted at will.  It's a work in progress, but I'm hopeful, it feels right.

Monday, 21 May 2012

First big project done and dusted!

Finally finished the James L Brett Tunic, unfortunately I've now lost a full inch off my chest and it's a bit big, but it will do perfectly for winter and feels lovely and warm!  Rather than the Monsoon wool suggested I used Ella Rae's Amity Heathers in colour #130, it's a 75% acrylic 25% wool mix 200 yards / 182 metres to the 100g ball, and is nice both to the touch and to knit with.  I must admit the back was a bit of a drag, it's stocking stitch all the way down, but I'm very proud!  This was my first go at sewing seams and after three restarts I got the hang of doing them with very little visible join whilst leaving no holes.  The pattern did assume a bit of knowledge and I had a hissy fit at my poor 'I only do purl and knit' husband while trying to figure out the making up instructions.  I love the colour and despite the trauma am currently starting the tension swatch for my next project, a Wendy Skye rib and lace waistcoat in my favourite yarn, James C Brett's Woodlander DK in L5, it's a bracken coloured brown and blue yarn I used to make my mum's Christmas present, a Winter Haven lace pattern scarf.  Next time I'm at my mum's I'll take a photo.  Big thanks go to my 8 year old for the photo, good picture!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Evie's quilt winging its way to Kelso

Well smug at having finished Evie's quilt and got it off before she's no longer a little baby!  I'm really pleased with the finished result, the pattern works well and is really colourful.  I'm now confident with my paper piecing and ready to launch myself onto a bigger slow growing project, beginning to put together pieces from my scrap bag and Caitlin's outgrown but much loved clothes.

Once I'd done the piecing, using Superior's fine strong Masterpiece thread, I got some cute baby dinosaur printed fleece from Letham Craft Shop near Forfar, and basted the two together using 505 spray.  I'm not sure I'll ever go back to traditional basting, it's so much easier!  In contrast to my usual method I bound the quilt before quilting as the quilting wasn't going to be directional or move the top much.  I usually do continuous binding but went for butted / knife edge binding this time and it was mostly fine, I had to unpick one edge where it hadn't caught the fleece and patchwork properly.

I found a nice old fashioned font online and reduced it to a single line.  I drew Es and Rs, Evie's initials, onto the hexagons using a green Frixion marker and hand quilted them.  Frixion markers disappear under heat and vanished beautifully after ironing, I also washed the quilt to make sure it wasn't going to come back.  To quilt I used a favourite quilting thread, Superior's King Tut in Mummies.  This is a thread I've used for several baby quilts and has a lovely repeat of pastel yellow, blue and pink.  I did originally try my hand at free machine quilting but wasn't happy with the result so unpicked and went for hand quilting, which gave a really lovely line.

So finally back to the knitting.  Between this and having lost over a stone after taking control of my eating and exercise, and becoming stronger and more flexible during yoga, it's been a good week.  Now all we need is for the weather to cooperate, here in Scotland seedlings are still having to be in the school bottle greenhouse, we might run out of space soon!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Paper piecing for little toes

Drawing out diamonds onto freezer paper
Am loving doing my first paper pieced quilt, a baby one mind!  I have long been inspired by Lucy Boston's work, and the sorrowful memory of giving up on a Grandmother's Flower Garden piece when I was younger. I pleasantly agonised over my choice of fabrics for Evie's quilt, it gave me the perfect excuse to browse and buy at the trader's hall at the Quilters' Guild AGM in Dundee.  I'm glad I took the time, I'm very happy with the soft eastery yellow and bright yet not too bright fabrics that go with it.  The orange is actually left over from Isabel's quilt but goes just perfectly.  My plan is to eventually make a larger quilt with smaller patches for myself / the house from my box of hoarded scraps and daughter's outgrown clothes, a memory quilt in the style of Tolly's grandmother in Lucy Boston's The Chimneys of Green Knowe.

I'm using freezer paper for my patches.  Personally I've found it far and away the best thing to use for paper piecing because it sticks to the back of the fabric when ironed on and so stays neatly in place while you're tacking the patch down.

First trial of pieces
How to create my templates took me a while to figure out, messing around with printers, but far and away the most economical way to use the freezer paper to get the maximum number of templates was to draw them out myself.  Cue some work with 60 and 120 degree angles and a soothing time spent cutting out templates, and some questions as to how a parallel line can 'move'.

I ironed a few paper pieces on to my fabrics making sure they were at least half an inch apart, then cut them out giving myself at least a quarter of an inch all round to turn over.  Once I'd tacked a few I laid them out to get an idea of how many I was going to need, and then I worked out all the fiddly half hexagons and half and quarter diamonds I was going to need for the edges.  
Final design
I always knew the design was going to be stars and hexagons, but I didn't know how I was going to assemble the diamonds into stars and how big the stars and hexagons were going to come out.  I had thought random would be fine, but then looking at it decided on expanding concentric 'circles' of each kind of star and to match the orange with the green and the blue with the white.  The green stripe was slightly fussy cut in that I decided to keep the stripes lengthways, but this was the direction of the weave.

I broke out the isometric paper and drew out what I had already (coloured in shapes, left).  To keep the pattern right I worked it out beyond the edges of the quilt (unfilled shapes, left) and could then just count how many setting edge pieces I was going to need of each colour.  I had to make the white patches black because my brain just couldn't cope with remembering which ones should be white!

Paper piecing is the ultimate take along sewing, the tacking was done on the train to and from Stirling, and even kept me occupied on a cold Perth station platform as the snow came down.   Piecing is now taking place in front of the tv under a duvet as the Scottish 'spring' flexes its claws, and it's growing fast.  All I have to figure out now is how to bind the quilt and back it.  I'm thinking knife edge binding, it will be a new thing for me, I've always done continuous binding before.  And I might just do tied / knotted quilting rather than continuous.  No more babies please!

Book making - a whole new world

Folded paper pocket books
I write a diary on a daily basis and have always felt a little dissatisfied, I stick into the pages articles that I read but writing in a bound diary has limitations.  I would like to be able to include more, in addition to the fabrics, wool, threads and small pictures I include I would like to be able to just add in a knitting pattern page rather than having to copy it out or have it reduced so small it cannot be reproduced.  I am fascinated by art journalling and, as you can tell, I blog, but I need a way to bring it together.

On the last weekend of March, the last days of the beautiful warm weather before the snow swept in, I biked to Arbroath to Fran Marquis' house and studio, Springfield Creative Arts Centre.   I nervously made my way in but was quickly made to feel at home by Fran and our bookmaking tutor for the weekend, Kirsty O'Connor.   Fran's house is just beautiful and I wanted to have everything in sight!  The studio room has a high ceiling and is perfect for use as a studio, full of light and space.

I spent the first day reliving all the best aspects of doing art when I was younger, creating papers and cards for our books using paint, paper paste and stamping, getting thoroughly messy and really enjoying myself.  We broke both days for a delicious lunch provided by Fran, even able to put up with my gluten free diet.  On the Sunday we created folded books out of our papers and Kirsty showed us all her tips to create the kind of professional finish I didn't think I was capable of.

Kirsty will be coming back in September and I am so there!  This time we'll be doing stitched books, and this returns me to my first paragraph.  If I can learn how to make books, I can journal on a day to day basis and bind the result, either on a year basis or divide it up if that's too big.  I can write on writing paper and just include in and cut down everything else to size, sketches, articles printed off from online.  I can use the teeny envelopes you get to hold ephemera such as travel and cinema tickets, little things that are so evocative.

Friday, 30 March 2012

New Makower London fabrics

Although we live in Scotland, my mum lives in Cambridge and since Caitlin was young we've gone on many happy day trips to London.  On our most recent trip we took the Docklands Light Railway through to Greenwich thorough the surreal Canary Wharf and walked back under the river along the tunnel, and visited Trafalgar Square to climb on the lions.  As she'd just finished a school project on Egypt we visited the mummies, statues and Rosetta Stone at the British Museum and took the tube to Embankment to see Cleopatra's Needle.  She adores London, and I can't wait to buy her these new Makower fabrics released to celebrate our capital city in the Olympic and Jubilee year.  Not sure what we will do with them yet, but as soon as they're back in stock I'll get these  three for her and I'm sure there will be a project to follow.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Around The World - Quilters' Guild AGM Dundee 2012

This is my 8 year old daughter Caitlin's Australian quilt which she had been working on since Christmas, her answer to the theme of 'Around the World' inspired by a school project on the country and my fabrics brought at my very first Festival on Quilts in Birmingham from Aussie Dreams, these make up most of the territories of Australia on the top right panel and the various animals and Uluru in the bottom left panel.

The rest of the fabric was all bought at the 2011 Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate, the bottom right was a Langa Lapu sun print from The African Fabric Shop.  They are a long time favourite of myself, my daughter and my mother, the owners, Magie and Bob, travel around Africa to source their fabrics directly from the weavers and dyers and each piece is unique.

For the first two panels, Caitlin sewed strips of fabric together then cross cut them to make the backgrounds of squares, using the sizes to give the effect of zooming in from outer space.  In the first panel she appliqued on Australia, New Zealand, Antartica and Indonesia and then appliqued the whole globe onto the dark spacey background.  In the second she used 505 spray to stick the Aussie Dreams fabrics down and appliqued them onto the squares background with a space dyed WonderFil thread she bought at her Quilters Guild Region 16 Regional Day.

In the third panel the sky, land and billabong were strips of fabric sewn together, then all the animals and the rock were appliqued on.  The sun and Uluru are reverse appliqued.

The koala and kangaroo joey were the successful product of my first foray into printing onto fabric with my laser printer with Crafty Computer Paper, who I've used before for inkjet printable fabric.  I printed onto their laser heat transfer paper and we carefully ironed the animals onto white fabric.  I was so nervous because the paper is not cheap, but the results were stunning.  Caitlin then used my Derwent Inktense pencils to colour in the kangaroo joey and a little bit of the koala joey, they are quite grey anyway, and then appliqued them on.

You can't see it, but the quilt is backed with the most fabulous green liquorice allsorts fabric.  Caitlin quilted in the ditch round each panel and also quilted a couple of stars with invisible thread.  She sewed on the binding, which is from the Very Hungry Caterpillar range by Makower, and I slip stitched it in place.  I found basting with 505 spray easy and it held the sandwich of quilt top, backing and 80/20 backing in place perfectly while she was machine quilting.

The borders are strips pieced in turn, and there is a kangaroo button from The Button Lady sewn onto the central square.

It can be difficult to fit the time and mental energy needed to focus on sewing inbetween the busy day to day life of an 8 year old and I was very proud of her hard work.  She created really all of this, designing and executing the whole thing with me acting as faciliator more than anything else, holding down the ruler for rotary cutting, paying for fabric, being an extra pair of hands and providing support if needed, moral and practical!  She won her class in the YQ competition for the Quilters' Guild AGM in Dundee and I freely admit to being a very proud mum!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

McManus Archive Visit - Quilters' Guild AGM 2012

On 23 March I made my way eagerly to Dundee's Barrack Street museum, once the holder of the zoology collection of the McManus Galleries, now the home of the curatorial staff.  We were going to see quilts selected for us by members of the Quilters' Guild.  We were escorted into a beautiful room lit from above by a central circular skylight that allowed us to see the quilts in a way that artificial light cannot match.  Quits were spread across tables all over the room and the curatorial staff took us through what they knew about each piece.  I've just included three here, the ones for which they had the most information.  To be able to see these pieces up close was a real treat.

Whaler Quilt 1880-1890
Quilt showing reverse side at right
This quilt was made by Mr Nicholas White, a whaler born in 1853 in Cork.  He served on The Balaena  as a steward and harpoonist, one of six men in a small wooden boat who would harpoon the whale and bring it back to the ship for processing.  He was married to Margaret and had two children.

The chevron pattern on the quilt is similar to those found on the northwest coast of England, on the Isle of Man and in Northern Ireland.  The turkey red fabrics would have come from the Vale of Leven near Glasgow, one of the first places in the UK able to produce the fabric because of the quality of its water.  Turkey red dyeing came over from France who were the first Europeans to produce it, but the fabric had been brought in by traders since the 17th century.  Turkey red and associated discharge prints were very popular as it was the first red dye that did not fade or bleed.

Contrast fabrics, blocks were patched together
The other fabrics in the quilt could be from a sampler book that Mr White took to sea with him, or perhaps from shirting.  It was created on board ship as a way to pass the time on the long journey to the Southern Ocean.  The quilt is in two layers  and the edges are butted which indicates it is English or Irish, as opposed to the American tradition of binding.

The quilt was donated by Mr White's nephew.

Paper pieced hexagons tablecloth circa 1840
Front showing delicate stars created from pieced hexagons
Tablecloth made of silk, velvet, brocade and ribbon.  Made by Anne Loney, her husband was gardener at Fingask Castle and the fabrics are believed to have come from the household.  The matching tea cosy is on permanent display at the McManus Galleries, and this quilt is featured in Janet Rae's book Quilts of the British Isles.  The border is precisely worked out on five sides, but on the sixth it is completely disorganised.  The hexagons are pieced with string over what appears to be scrim but there are no paper pieces, it may have been stiffened and used in place of papers, or it may have been used to back and stiffen them.

The story of this quilt reminds me of Lucy Boston's book The Chimneys of Green Knowe.  In it Tolly sits by the fire with his grandmother while she mends old patchwork quilts made of paper pieced hexagons just like this tablecloth, and she tells him the story of the pieces of fabric which have come from Green Knowe when it was a much grander house.  There is evidence of designing, of fussy cutting of hexagons and careful placing but also of making do, of running out of fabrics.  On the reverse the rainbow coloured edgings of ribbons are clearly visible, it must have been slippery stuff to sew!

Prohibitionist Party Banner 1904
This banner was created as a fund raiser for the Scottish Prohibitionist Party.  Party members would have paid to have their names embroidered on the diamonds and the banner would have been used at their meetings.  Names on the banner include Walter Walsh, chairman and radical minister of the Gilfillan Memorial Church, and Edwin Scrymgeour, organising secretary.  The banner was created at an important moment in the history of the Scottish Prohibitionist Party, in 1903 there was 1 branch which expanded to 3 in 1904.  The banner was donated to the McManus in the 1970s and its remarkable condition is due to it being kept away from light.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Caitlin's gloves

Caitlin bought this lovely glittery wool for herself a while ago, it's Creative Yarns DK Rainbow Glitz in Red/Black.  She wanted a pair of gloves, due largely to her ability to lose them, and I'd just got myself Susette Palmer's book Gloves.

These gloves are quite simple, they are simply a twin of each other with no extra rows after the little finger, and way too big for her despite me doing a tension swatch, but she loves them and that's all that matters.  It was nice to get back into circular knitting again, I enjoy making gloves and once I've finished the aran tunic I'm on I'm planning to use the leftover wool to make myself another pair, I just have a pair of long armed gauntlets at the moment since I lost my flipover fingerless gloves.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lap blanket

Morag's Lap Blanket
My mother in law needed something special for Christmas, not least because her birthday and Christmas day are one and the same.  I wanted something to keep telling her how loved she is when she goes into hospital, and as she has become more ill she gets increasingly cold.  I may not be able to wrap her up and protect her, but I can give her something which does.  So, a month before Christmas resting on my laurels with all the lap quilts done, I launched into knitting squares from Debbie Abraham's inspirational book Blankets and Throws to Knit.  I had meant to do something colourful for our house, but this was more important.

I knitted and knitted til my fingers were sore, and once I had 8 squares washed them and pinned them out carefully onto a polystyrene fish box lid (clean I'll have you know) on which I'd drawn squares of the right size, 7 inches I think.  It was amazing the shapes these 'squares' came out as, both when I was knitting them and after washing!  I thought I'd done enough, but then laid them out and realised I had nowhere near enough, cue more knitting!  Some of the squares have beads knitted into them, which involved at times sitting patiently with a bead reamer and enlarging the too small holes on the 4mm beads I had.  I learned intarsia knitting and how to use circular needles, and Scott sewed the squares together.  Then we frantically cut and threaded through endless eight inch lengths of wool for the tassels, finishing with a sigh of relief on Christmas Eve, and completely contented with our efforts.  Not necessarily elegant, but bright and cheerful, the intended effect.

Lap Quilt #3

Matthew's Quilt Front
Lap quilt number 3 now finished and all off to their respective owners in time for Christmas.  As I came to the end we set them all out and finally chose owners, this one (which is my favourite with my obsession with order) went to my husband's paternal grandfather, a much loved man in his 90s with Parkinsonians which makes it difficult and slow for him to walk.  He has macular degeneration so is unable to see well, and is mostly deaf, but is still very much 'in there' and loves his food.

Matthew's Quilt Reverse
The blues in this quilt were a fat quarter and a slightly larger piece of oriental fabrics, one from Fabric Freedom and the other from Makower. The browns were various stash fabrics, some Three Cats / Shwe Shwe german prints and an african mud cloth, but also one fabric that has been used for everything from tree trunks to horse's tails.  I made sure no two browns were opposite each other in partnership with the cream (some of this was the very first fabric I bought) and paired them with the darker brown, another stash fabric.

I hand quilted with Superior's King Tut #994 Karnak, which amazed me by having the exact same blues and green in order, thanks to Barnyarns for the accuracy of the pictures of the threads on their site.  I quilted the stars loosely then quilted the nine patch squares in circles using a template cut out of fabric, after being struck by Linzi Upton's quilted circles on her wonderful Quilted Yurt when she came to our Region 16 Quilters' Guild Regional day in September.  As I said, I do like geometrics.