Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Yarn bowl magic

My neighbour is a wood turner. Recently I showed him some photos of yarn bowls and asked if he could make me one. Yesterday he popped round with this.





Made from beechwood, it is exquisite. A real joy to behold when I am knitting. And I did a little research on beech trees too: beech is known as the "Mother of the Woods" for its protective and nurturing qualities. It is linked to ancient wisdom and knowledge, meditation and healing, to making wishes. 

Associated with the origins of writing, in an old tree alphabet, the beech is symbolised by a crook, suggesting the shepherding of words into stories. The link with sheep here is appealing. And I like to think of my yarn bowl shepherding my stitches as I indulge in some meditative, mindful and always healing, knitting.

Tree Wisdom: the definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

Sunday, 11 October 2015

New garden and autumn crafting

We have very much settled into our new home here in the Silverdale and Arnside area. It's wonderful and very special to be beside the coast and enjoy fabulous views over Morecambe Bay. As the photos below show, we have inherited a lovely garden which we have enjoyed in late summer and now in its autumn finery.




I am on a steep learning curve, still learning what all the plants are, and am constantly suprised by what appears as the seasons change. By all accounts the garden is spectacular in the spring with a profusion of bulbs and early summer flowers. So looking forward to that!
Meanwhile late summer and autumn has provided some unexpected delights,


Schizostylis coccinea

Hibiscus bloom
Some autumn baking, inspired by Great British Bake Off,



French madeleines

I have managed to keep up a decent level of knitting and stitching


House on Acorn Hill by Blackbird Designs

Socks for DH

A Sockhead Hat for me!

Hope you are enjoying some slow autumn stitching.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Sock finishes and lovely things

With moving house just a couple of weeks away, I have had little time to quilt, so some projects will have to wait until I have my new sewing room set up. But I have managed a cross stitch finish and two pairs of socks. Stitching and knitting are keeping me calm while we pack up our belongings after a massive decluttering operation which actually feels marvellous.

The cross stitch finish is a design by Sandra Sullivan called Crows a Plenty. Stitched on 30 count linen using the lovely Gentle Arts threads,



Two pairs of socks came off the needles, a vanilla sock in self patterning yarn by Regia  (bottom), and my first patterned sock, by which I mean I had to keep the pattern going down to the toe - Hermiones Everyday sock, a free pattern on Ravelry (top)


So, as a reward, I bought some more sock yarn to knit a pair of socks for DH. He chose West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the Blue Tit colourway. He likes long socks so plenty of TV knitting coming up!


And as a treat for all my hours of lovely slow stitching and knitting, I bought this beautiful project bag from Fondant Fibre which came with a pretty stitch marker, a bar of Knitter's soap in Mahogany, and a lemon lollipop!  





I hope that you enjoy some slow stitching this weekend.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Green sock syndrome

 I seem to be veering towards various shades of green in my new sock knitting obsession! This latest start is a a Zauberball in Colour 2244. The shades are just gorgeous.



Meanwhile, as the massive decluttering takes place - very cathartic -  prior to our house move, I managed to some slow, calming needlework in the evenings. This is a cross stitch pattern by Little House Needleworks, stitched on 30 count linen. I thought it would be lovely on the wall in what will be my sewing room in the new house,





The sock knitting continues to be inspired by the socksurgery enabling from Shinybees podcast and Clare Devine over at the yarn and pointy sticks blog. I haven't yet been brave enough yet to try toe up socks or experiment too much with heel shape variations, but am getting there, and really enjoying learning to knit socks. It is a great TV watching project, and they do feel so wonderful on your feet!

I have been listening to  quilting and crafting podcasts for a couple of years now, but have only recently begun to watch video podcasts while I knit or stitch. Mainly knitting ones as they seem to be far more numerous. A couple of recent favourites are LittleBobbinsKnits and TillyTrout on YouTube. Both women are a delight do listen to and I am learning a lot along the way. Give them a listen.

Bye for now and enjoy some slow stitching.



Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spring Hares, House moves & Hermione's Socks

My crafting has suffered in the last few weeks but for good reasons: we are fulfilling a long standing dream of moving from the city to the country, from Manchester, UK to north Lancashire to a beautiful village on the coast set among gorgeous old woodlands and nature reserves. We sold our house very quickly in early March and so had to spend the next few weeks finding our new home. We know this area well from many holidays spent there. We will have the Lake District just half an hour away and north Yorkshire within easy reach.

I daren't get too excited yet until everything goes through...but my new house has a beautiful sun porch looking out over a field of sheep!  Fingers crossed....I may be sitting knitting socks and hand quilting there this summer!

Meanwhile, I am catching up with WIPs and have finished a few projects too.

First up on the finished projects are the Emerald Isle socks (I call them this because of the colour).  This is my first ever pair of hand knit socks.I am learning to knit them with much enabling from Jo of the Shinybees blog and podcast and Clare Devine of the Yarn and Pointy Sticks blog I knitted them plain so I could understand the construction. 


My Emerald Isle socks

Then I finished a small art quilt for my local Embroiderers' Guild exhibition in May. The them was 'Inspired by Gardens' and I have called this 'Seedheads'. It is stitched on linen and I used various stitches - straight stitch, seed stitch, French knots, cross stitch, fly stitch, bullion knots -  to represent autumn seedheads.


'Seedheads' mini quilt 13.5" x 13.5"

Works in progress include a pair of Hermione's Everyday socks, a very popular free pattern from Ravelry. I can see why its popular - it's a lovely sock to knit, easy but with a delightful texture that develops as you knit. The yarn was bought at Yarndale, a beautiful skein of hand dyed fingering from The Weaver's Loft I am knitting it on 2.5 Hiya Hiya 9" circular needles which I am enjoying using, though I do like my Karbonz DPNs very much too.




And this is a small applique piece which I started in a workshop with Lizzie Wall who designs and stitches beautiful art quilts and other pieces. You can see some of her work here when she came to do a talk for my local Embroiderers' Guild. I have yet to machine stitch the pieces in place.



Lizzie Wall workshop - Hare in a Cornfield

On the theme of Hares.....which I do love.....here is a cross stitch embroidery I am working on. It's on a 40 count linen so I have to set myself up with the big magnifying glass! It's a Brenda Gervais design called 'Three Tulips'.



'Three Tulips' embroidery by Brenda Gervais



I hope you are enjoying some slow stitching or knitting.



Monday, 2 March 2015

Dyeing to tell - colours from nature



On Saturday I went along to a workshop on natural dyeing at Beetlefelt Studio in Manchester. The session was designed as an introduction to using such things as berries, bark and plants to create a range of lovely dye colours, and a basic understanding of how and when to use mordants.

Yarns, wools, silk and fabric were pre soaked, some without any mordant and some with alum and some with iron. And towards the end of the dye baths we added mordants to the bath itself and re soaked some of our yarns. I did this with my sock yarn dyed with madder: it went in the dye bath with no mordant, emerged a lovely red-orange, then I returned it to the dye bath after alum had been added and it deepened the tone.

At the end of the workshop we created a number of sample cards of the handspun yarn (either alpaca or white-faced woodland) indicating for each dye bath - madder, weld, onion skins and berries - the various colours achieved by no mordant, alum mordant  and iron mordant.

I recorded most of the process in photos.

Yarns soaking in water

Leaves and stalks of the weld plant
  I learned a bit more about this plant's uses for dyeing here.


Madder root

Onion skins



Blackberries and elderberries


Heating the madder dye bath

Heating the weld dye bath

Heating the onion dye bath


A selection of mordants. NB. Tin is not environmentally friendly!

the madder dye bath with yarns

the weld dye bath with yarns


Fairisle gloves from Beetlefelt studios, dyed with onion skins, the colours achieved by using a range of mordants as listed below,
 


And my own efforts,

My sock yarn dyed with madder, alum added later

 
My sock yarn dyed with weld. Iron mordant to be added to deepen colour
 and make the yarn colourfast

A range of Beetlefelt hand spun yarns dyed with natural dyes and a variety of mordants

Friday, 30 January 2015

Stars in a Time Warp Quilt Along

As if I don't have enough to do with a Calendar Quilt class (photos to follow soon), learning to knit socks with the help of Jo at Sinybees podcast and Clare over at the newly refurbished and sparkly Yarn and Pointy Sticks blog (more on that soon as well), I have taken it upon myself to join in with Barabara Brackman's Stars in a Time Warp Quilt Along 2015 which she is running at her Civil War Quilts blog,



Civil War Quilts


I particularly want to follow this QAL because of my interest in quilt history: it's a great way to learn about the fabrics of the civil war period, the colours and styles popular at the time. Each week we make the same star pattern but in a different reproduction fabric  with a 'lesson' about that specific colour or style of fabric.

So far we have covered Turkey Red (in an earlier blog post I mentioned that my grandparents worked in the Turkey Red dyeworks in the the Vale of Leven, Scotland)




Prussian Blue: one of the first synthetic pigmentsa mineral colourant discovered c. 1706 in Germany and used by artists in the 18th century, it became a cheaper alternative to indigo in colouring textiles in the first half of the 19th century. Found in American quilts from 1830s to mid 1850s.



And Shirting Prints: the blue on white in the Prussian Blue block above is a classic shirting print, as is the the central square below, and the backround fabric.


 


One of the fun challenges of this QAL is finding reproduction fabrics in my stash that will match the block of the week. It's also a great stash builder and a wonderful way of learning about quilt history and historic textiles.

The pattern for the block can be found here on Barbara's Civil War Quilts blog where you will also discover a wealth of information and resources on quilts and textiles of that era as well as some amazing stories about the men, women and families who lived through the American Civil War.

I will be posting more blocks from the QAL as I finish them.