Saturday 13 October 2018

Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Fair 2018

For all of us in the stitching community there's nothing quite like the big Ally Pally Autumn Fair. There are lots of other craft fairs, but this is the big'un, and I, for one, always feel like I'm missing something if I'm not able to go.

This year I got an early ticket for Thursday morning. I rocked up 5 minutes before the official opening time, and the place was already pretty much full to capacity already. I'm a bad girl who likes to come by car so that she can transport her swag bag (day's shopping ... wicked 😈) home with minimum muscle strain. I was able to find a space in the free car park, but only just ... .

A chum, who trolleyed in on a late ticket that afternoon (after 3 p.m. entry), told me that it was fairly civilised when she was doing the rounds, but I'd have to say it was a bit too much of a push when I was there.

Still - gripes about how many of us there were apart - it was a great morning out.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Dog Mattress

Gosh I've been away a long time. I've been crazy busy on a non-crafting project, which has slowed down progress on absolutely everything else in my life. But it's finished. Hurrah! It's over, and I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. It's a long story, but it's finally done and dusted, and I'm really excited about moving on to other things.

One super-quick sew that I have managed to knock out was this little mattress for the dog's bed. I measured the exact size that would fit inside his basket, added a 3 cm seam allowance all round, as I was planning on sewing in a very thick wadding, and quickly cut up some fleece that I'd bought in ages ago.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Autumn Cowl Pattern

This cowl is knit in my own home-dyed yarn. I chose 4 ply wool, which I had dyed with cochineal to produce the deep burgundy red, coral and salmon pink (as the dye bath got weaker), onion skins, avocado stones, pomegranate and turmeric for the golden yellow, walnuts shells for the muted brown, log bark chips for the purple and indigo over-dyed yellow for the green. I've been experimenting with natural dyes of late, and, in truth, these colours were chosen from the kaleidoscope of what I had to hand. I passed a happy half hour playing around with the little hanks of wool in my stash to produce what I thought would be a pleasing combo of autumn colours. I'll be honest there wasn't  lot of science that went into the selection, and things got edited further as the cowl progressed. I hadn't, for instance, reckoned on including purple, but it quickly became apparent to me that if I used only my favourite fire colours the composition would look a bit flat without something from the opposite side of the colour wheel to spice it up a bit.

The finished cowl weighs 50.51g - so you'll need just over 50 g of wool in total to knit it. It's a project that you could knit up from oddments left over from sock-knitting. If you want to buy the wool for the purpose, you will do just fine with little 20g mini-hanks of each colour, and you will have loads left over for another creation when you're done.

I've used 3.25 mm needles, which have produced a tension in stocking stitch on the colourwork of 33stitches x 40 rows for 10 cm². The finished cowl measures 20cm long and 50 cm around. It is knit in the round.

Friday 31 August 2018

As summer draws to a close ...

I always come on-line round about now to complain about how I want summer to go on for ever. And I don't want it to end. But even I know that everything has its season, and this year we've had a pretty good run of summer. It's been fabulous: long and hot and sunny.

In these final days I've been busy with my needles, enjoying the cool of the evening breeze on my terrace as the children played in the garden below. I've finished the Fair Isle cowl that I'd been working on with my home-dyed yarn. Without any prompting from me, Emi (age 12) admired the colours, which made me feel good. He's not given to much comment where my knitting is concerned, so it's significant that he volunteered something positive.

Friday 24 August 2018

High Summer Makes

It's a strange experience knitting with wool on the Costa Brava in hot, steamy August, and then trying on your knitted whatsit, in the bright sunshine, all kitted out in your bathers. I'd say it's a bit surreal, but autumn is coming, and I know I'll be very grateful for my woolly whatsits in the fullness of time and in the depths of the autumn chills. That said my fingerless gloves with bikini combo was downright weird.

My neighbours think I'm a bit strange. Everyone else is lounging by the pool, or soaking up the rays on the beach or fingering their way through a dog-eared paperback whilst wallowing in the shallows. I'm reclining in the cool of the shade having a party all of my own, knitting and sewing with headphones on listening to "The Prisoners of Geography", an interesting take on geopolitics, and how everything is the shape it is because of geography. This is the life!

I've been working on a design for my guests in October. Our project is going to be all about colour-work. This autumn I've got big ambitions to design a Fair Isle jumper that will channel my inner land girl from the 1940s. I'm thinking of lots of autumn golds and russets and browns; fiery earth colours.

Here's my project palate, which is all 4 ply merino that I've dyed myself from natural dyes.

I've found a great pattern book by Mary Jane Mucklestone, which is full of colourful inspiration. I've also found a great programme on the internet called StitchFiddle, which is fabulous for designing your own cross stitch and Fair Isle patterns. I had been using another quite expensive design software (which I won't name in case they sue me), but I think StitchFiddle is much better. The other (nameless) software kept needing upgrades, for which you needed to remember a lot of abstract details from when you subscribed, which made the whole process feel like it was just too much trouble to be bothered with.

I've stitched together a little cushion from the last cactus design that I stitched, and its been trimmed  with a really joyful turquoise trim. If the WonderDog were a better behaved animal I would use it as a scatter cushion on the sofa, but, despite being five years of age, the WonderDog still likes to chew things with the result that much of what I possess has frayed edges and comes emblazoned with teeth marks.

I found a lovely suedette/ faux suede upholstery-weight fabric on-line in the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, which I've used as a backing. They send out samples before you commit to purchase a serious length of anything. In fact I used the sample that they sent to back a couple of the little key-rings (also photographed above). It's a really opulent, chic fabric and I've got big plans for a whole set of cactus-inspired cross stitch cushions all backed in this marvelous faux suede.

I'm tempted to swap cacti for boats as my go-to design fetish. Down in the town they've decorated the streets for summer. One street is shaded by the most colourful parasols ever, all suspended in the air. Another has an armada of little boat kites, which bob up and down with the wind.

Anyway, Happy Friday, and all the best for the weekend,

Bonny x