Thursday, 24 April 2014

Loveandpeas #3

Funky squirrel!
I haven't completely stopped my Loveandpeas makealong, stuff has got in the way a bit but here are two I have completed.  Number three was this adorable squirrel, for this one the technique to be used was filling stitches and I just had the best fun.  On the leaves I've used variegated 4ply wool in a satin stitch radiating out from the veins and then I've gone over the top of the veins in chain stitch in the same wool, part of the fun was trying to figure out which bits to stitch first.  The squirrel is almost all stitched in long and short stitch, angled to go in the direction of the fur, and is a mixture of embroidery flosses and wools.  The eyes and the lines on the face are backstitched in dark embroidery floss and the tummy is done with single short stitches scattered all over.  There are french knots on the squirrel and the acorn, and on the background flowers and just a bit of stem stitch on the curling acorn leaf stems.  What a lovely design!

Number two was a bit of applique and a deer design.  As with most
Pretty deer
things in fabric design there are a lot of different ways to do something and I followed the instructions and used interfacing to stabilise my bits of fabric before pinning them onto the background and blanket stitching them in place.  However, in future I will use fusible backing, something I've used so many times in the past but didn't think I had any (I did, it was hiding...).  It basically glues the fabric onto the background and you don't even need to stitch, but I would have done the blanket stitch anyway, it does look so good.  This time I did copy the embroidery pattern onto quilting paper, a flimsy substance like tissue paper which is strong enough to draw onto but tears away easily once you've stitch through it.  Then I embroidered all the loveliness of the design in place, wool for the tree, french knots, plenty more practice.  This was all done during the Boat Race and it did a lot to distract me from the rather awful result...

A parrot for a little prince

Funky parrot!
When I asked my friend Judith what I could make for her baby son Rhoan her answer was a little surprising but great fun.  I'd asked her to go look on Ravelry and she picked out a parrot.  It's been a while since I've made toys but I had plenty of spare wool so got to work on Rian Anderson's Toy Parrot.  It was an absolute pleasure to work something that knitted up in such a short time and was so well designed, the pattern is full of clever increases and decreases which give the parrot his lovely fat tummy.  And because tension didn't matter I just knitted in double knit (8ply) weight wool, which meant two strands of the finer stash wools I had in my needle.  This allowed me to play around with colour, the red for the head and tail is two strands of the same wool, but the tummy is one strand of yellow and one of orange held together which gave a lovely variegated effect.  I expected it just to look like two strands but no, they blended and unblended to look just like an ombre wool.  Before I knitted I did cross stitch and you often blend two different coloured strands of embroidery floss in the needle, but this was the first time it had occurred to me to try it in knitting.  I decided to embroider on the eyes as Rhoan is only little and was pleased with how they looked.  Even the beak has clever shaping to get the hook shape.  The wings were knitted with this amazing fuzzy yarn I had along with a strand of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk #139 Peacock which was my maiden purchase from Dundee's newest knitting shop Wool & Co.  I will just say that knitting with the novelty yarn was challenging and leave it at that, worth it for the effect but it was an experience!  A perfect pattern for using up your stash.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Yarncrawl Dundee

Router died on me after changing all my passwords last Thursday to try and keep my computer safe...  So this is a bit delayed, but I wanted to put out a post on our excellent yarncrawl round Dundee.  It really doesn't seem that long since pubcrawl was more part of my vernacular, I vividly remember the pub golf that was part of the initiation into Lip Theatre Company.  But this was pretty exciting too, especially now Dundee has five yes FIVE places you can buy wool and indulge in one of my favourite postapocalyptic life skills.

Baby double knit from the Knitting Pin for Lexi's Jacket
We got the number 73 bus in from Carnoustie, an excellent service that runs from just round the corner from us on Newton Road all the way to Ninewells Hospital, it is a lifeline for the carless and passes a good hour watching the world go by!  We clambered on and up to the top deck and the bus picked up Marta (her account of the yarncrawl can be found here) and her two boys and the kids happily blethered away all the way in to the end of the Arbroath Road.  We all got off there and turned up Albert Street to the Knitting Pin.  
Pompom yarn from the Knitting Pin

What a sight greeted me.  A vast range of every type of commercial yarn all by type, I easily found the double knitting section and was able to take my time picking out four beautiful shades of baby double knit yarn for my next big project, Debbie Bliss' Check & Cross Stitch Jacket for my neice's christening present. Caitlin was enchanted by the pompom yarn and picked out a ball to try  I left knowing I now had a failsafe good yarn store to go to, that here I would find a selection of inexpensive wools and notions that would enable me to make up any project and that I would find service that was friendly and helpful

From there it was a bit of a walk down the town but in the spring sunshine this was a delight, down Albert Street to the Murraygate and along to the Forum Centre to shop number #2, Wool Craft in the Forum Centre.  This is the shop my husband's gran used for wool and although small it has a wide range of commercial yarns, sundries, notions and stuff for other needlecrafts: cross stitch yarns, buttons and needles.  There's not much to say other than this has been my go to Dundee wool shop for years and it's good value.

Big Wool and Big needles!
A short hop then along the High Street to Union Street and down to the youngest member of the yarncrawl: Wool&Co.  This opened up just the end of last month and currently stocks luxury yarns from Rowan, Erica Knight and Blue Sky Alpacas as well as beautiful birchwood knitting needles, tiny rosewood needles for knittting in the round and cones of yarn for machine knitting.  The owner Laura shares my passion for British yarns and this is where I got the beautiful teal coloured Blue Sky alpaca/silk yarn that I am currently using to knit a parrot (!) for baby Rhoan from Rian Anderson's pattern Toy Parrot with Pirate Accessories, a delight to knit up, Anderson uses shaping delightfully.  Caitlin fell in love with a pair of mega chunky mittens, Laura had clevery designed the pattern to be used by beginners at a how-to-knit workshop so they would have something usable to take away with them.  Caitlin bought the turquoise Rowan yarn and 10mm needles to make her own and Laura sent me the pattern, thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to check right away that her email had reached me!

Fluph's spring window display, Totoro bottom right!
Then a longer walk up through my personal history across the University Campus to Blackness Road, to Fluph and the warmest welcome from girl (Leona) and dog!  We admired the beautiful window display and Caitlin and I particularly fell in love with Leona's little Totoro and soot ball.  Caitlin sat and knitted Rhoan's parrot while I got a very welcome cup of tea, then we hit the debit card: the last balls of wool for Lexi's jacket, a book for me and more wool for the child!

Drops Big Delight, an Aran weight yarn for Cailtin to learn cables
Fluph is the only shop that stocks Garnstudio Drops yarn and for this alone I would love them.  I discovered Garnstudio when I discovered Ravelry when I was first starting to knit again and could not believe their generosity, they offer a huge range of free knitting patterns and their Misty Vines waistcoat was my first big project.  I was unable to use their yarn as I like to touch yarn before using it, and our nearest at that point was Aberdeenshire.  There is now one in Glasgow too but in total only three stores stocking Drops yarn in Scotland and I'm lucky enough to be close to one!  Garnstudio are Scandinavian and since the 80s they have been producing delicious wearable designs, often scandinavian and nordic in style.

Book, Drops yarn and I had to have a tote bag
So I picked out four balls of Karisma yarn for Lexi's jacket, three white for the background and one dusty pink for the cross stitches.  And then I spotted Little Red In The City by Ysolda Teague and fell head over heels. Thing that I love about this book
1.  Micro cables
2. Hooded lace cardigan, I love hoodies
3. Pages and pages of how to customise a commercial pattern to your personal measurements
4. The friendly style of writing
5. The delicious photographs
6. The Scottish connection
7. And the thing that made me buy it, Teague photographs and speaks about two models, the girl on the cover models the patterns throughout.  She is triumphantly rubenesque and shows how the patterns look on real people!

Fluph runs workshops too, I may be back on Thursday for their regular knit night

Refreshed we wandered along down Annfield Road to the Hawkhill and cut through to the Perth Road.  Our final destination wasn't a knitting shop as such, but a shop I've often wanted to look into when going to or coming back from Ninewells on our bus.  Creative Creatures is a small but perfectly formed craft shop that sells a wide range of, well, stuff, including the thing I spent last week searching for: buckles.  Knitting yarn, felting tops, kits, buttons, embroidery supplies and much much more.

Tired out and satisfied Caitlin and I walked down to the newsagent next to the Queens Hotel and caught the number 73 all the way home from just outside the University's Tower Building.

All of these shops dovetail perfectly, they all offer something the other's don't and I hope they all survive and thrive.  And we met some shop owners who were fired with the same adoration of the squish stuff as ourselves and were helpful and enthusiastic about our little crafty kids.