Wednesday, 9 September 2009

An outbreak of startitis

Having 'completed' a long-term project last time I posted, my weekend 'off' visiting the NEC and taking a bit of a break rapidly metamorphosed into something rather other. I should have predicted it - I was inspired by the FoQ, surrounded by amazing quilts, and came home with a small(ish) collection of fabrics. I had been becoming increasingly aware of the planned projects languishing in fabric or yarn form around the house. I was a bit bored with the moss stitch of the only big project on my needles, and the other WIP (an attempt at design) had gone from being a prototype to an error-ridden swatch, which (if I was honest with myself) needed to be ripped out and started again. All triggers, which I should probably have recognised, but didn't.

Those are the projects that were born of that one weekend. From left to right (front, then back): a half-monkey; the Wicked Eyelet Rib vest, with a number of modifications; BWOF pleated skirt; BWOF cord skirt; two shirts and a third skirt, as yet unsewn; a new pair of pyjamas; the 'coins' for my next quilt; the strips for the pieced back of that quilt... Progress on all of these is varied, but I'm pleased that none of them has stalled yet, and though I've got more new projects planned, I'm not starting anything new just now!

FO reports should follow shortly, but I'm off to wear the finished items, and present my (also finished in the last fortnight) conference paper in London this weekend... Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Just to say that I have not (despite possible evidence to the contrary) disappeared off the face of the world. The good news: I have a second full draft of my thesis, ready to post to my supervisor tomorrow, leaving tomorrow free for crafting, I'm off to the FoQ at the NEC on Friday with some of the Bluestockings, I have the new issue of Yarn Forward, and the new Twist Collective is up (plus, bonus fact of Felix (aka The Domestic Soundscape) having an article in it!). Less good news: on Monday I have to start reading up on a slightly different topic to write a paper that I'll be giving in less than a month. It turns out, it's all about this weekend!

Ah well, here's a picture to distract you in the meantime...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A diverting weekend

A little while ago, a weekend turned into an expedition, and I was suddenly packing a suitcase for 5 days and travelling to three venues for different events. The first of these was Emily's birthday:pottery painting in Twyford, and a brilliant meal at the local Greek restaurant.
Having not picked up a paintbrush in ten years, it was with some trepidation that I chose to paint a mug, but with a bit of trial and error, stencils, and time, I'm pleased with the result, which I collected this week:

The next day P and I hopped onto the coach to London, enjoyed a peaceful walk from Victoria to the Globe (after a moment of confusion on my part, since I don't navigate using points of the compass, and don't really know how Victoria fits into my mental map), past the end of the book market, polka-dot trees, topiary furniture and the millenium bridge.

The reason we were in London at all was the launch for my friend Sarah's first poetry collection, Napoleon's Travelling Bookshelf. With readings from both Sarah and her fellow poet Stephanie Leal (Metrophobia) from behind a brilliant swan lectern,

a collection of people I've met at Sarah's events in the past, and a bar, a good time was had by all. Here's a gratuitous shot of me and the author:

me in the Kaffe Fassett fabric dress that I made in a fit of frustration with work in May. On the return journey, tired feet were compensated for by a pause to appreciate (and photograph) the blue lights in the trees, and St Paul's in the dusk.

A late return to Oxford ensured that I was in situ for a very hot three days of conference attendance (thankfully, I wasn't speaking), very satisfactorily rounded off by a visit to the Oxford Bluestockings before I hopped on the train home.

Oh, and Sarah's book (available via Amazon or direct from penned in the margins) has been described as "intricate as lace but as sharp as daggers"... which got me thinking...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Some sweaters

I'm back! I was writing, and knitting, and writing, and knitting, and sewing, and writing, and knitting, and now I have a little bit of time, and inspiration (but no photos... sorry!)

In all the knitting I have been doing, (an Ishbel, a Seascape, progress on the Drops alpaca cardigan knit in Rowan all-seasons cotton) there's been a lot that still hasn't been started. I like jumpers and cardigans: I like knitting them, I like that they are real garments, I like choosing the patterns, and I like wearing them when they're done, and I've now got a fair few in my queue. This week I've taken one step closer, and printed all the patterns, picked yarn for three out of the four, and will probably cast-on for one of them over the weekend. So, over the next few months (if I remember to blog about them, and don't get waylaid by lace), I will be making:

The Minimalist Cardigan from Interweave knits, in Oxford Kitchen Yarn which has been in my stash for over a year because I realised it didn't want to be the pattern for which I had bought it. This is what I'll be casting-on next, and I'm hoping it will be a relatively quick knit, though I'm not looking forward to that amount of moss stitch.

The Wicked Eyelet Vest, modified to button only from the empire line upwards, in rowan cashsoft dk, which I need to order.

Owls by Kate Davies in (probably) some form of Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed.

The Ethel Mildred Ferguson Pullover from the Family Trunk Project by Emily Johnson in some as-yet-unidentified yarn.

and finally, Oblique by Veronique Avery, in rowan cashsoft aran.

If I can get all of those done before this time next year, I'll be impressed... but the hope is that the MC and the WEV will be done by autumn, Owls should be a quick project, and finished for the winter, and that EMF and Oblique will fit in along the way. Both the last two have interesting details which should stop me putting them down for too long, in favour of lace or cables elsewhere.

As for what is on the needles at present - nothing. I've just cast off the last piece of the Drops cardigan, and will be sewing that up tomorrow and this weekend, all ready to wear next week (I hope). Maybe by then, I'll even have pictures to show you!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A quilt

About eighteen months ago, I had a sudden thought that it would be nice to make our friends, N&J, a quilt as a joint Christmas and Wedding Anniversary present (their anniversary is just before Christmas, so this makes more sense than it might otherwise). There only being six months before Christmas at that point, I decided that it would be more sensible to take my time over it, and make it for Christmas 2008. Magazines were perused with care, graph paper pressed into service, and a design was put together. A trip to the NEC Festival of Quilts in the summer of 2008 was the perfect opportunity to buy fabrics in colours I would not normally use, but which I knew they would like.

And then... I did nothing. Or rather, I wrote some conference papers, worked on two chapters of
my thesis, and did some teaching. None of which helped me make any progress on the quilt, which was, even in the last week of November, nothing more than a pile of fabric, and a PLAN. So I decided that as soon as term was over (and term finishes ridiculously early), I would dedicate myself to patchwork and quilting until it was done. After four days of patchwork, I had this:

My biggest piece of patchwork ever, of which I was very proud. I added a small border, made up the quilt sandwich, did some basic quilting (time, remember, was a major issue!)... and this was the result:

It is the biggest quilt I have made (and I've only made 2 before, neither of which was properly quilted), and I'm not mad about the standard of the quilting. It's bunchier than I'd hoped it would be - which may be caused by the size of the quilt, and the difficulties I had in getting it into my machine, but may also be to do with how I put the sandwich together. Any tips? I'm hoping that next time, I'll be able to persuade a friend to come over and help with the sandwiching. By contrast, the binding (which I was dreading, since whenever I've tried to do it in the past it has been a mess), went very smoothly. In the company of Richard Armitage and D. Denby-Ashe, I spent 6 happy (and warm) hours on my sofa, and even got the mitring on the corners to work!

Overall, I'm happy, and looking forward to the next one.. or two... or maybe three (did I mention that I hoard fabric scraps, and currently have 3 boxes of old trousers/shirts that are going to be given a new lease of log-cabin life?). Oh, and having hit that deadline and had a great time in Oxford for the anniversary party... Of course I had to make a dress I'd had the fabric and pattern for for two years, in 48 hours. I decided on the Tuesday that I wanted something new to wear to a works' Christmas do on the Friday, and by Thursday lunch-time, had a new frock:

(I do not photograph well - I hope I'm not this funny-looking in real life:) And from the back:

The plan is to wear it again in a fortnight for a family wedding - a fairly good sign that I felt ok in it!