Monday, 7 October 2013


It's that time of the year again. Makers everywhere are drawing up their making lists for  - sssh - christmas. Or if they haven't, they're running late!! After creating a rather splendid list that I know will be slashed to at least half its size come November, I realised I haven't blogged since this time last year!!!!! How did that happen?

Well, indifferent health has kept my creative mojo on the back burner mostly but I think I got out of the habit of blogging, then wondered if I really needed to as I share little updates on facebook more often these days. So I've been pondering whether to start again or not. But something odd happened when I wrote that list. My knitting goddess decided to emerge, all rested up and ready to take on fancy intarsia mitts, lacy scarves and even finish some UFO's - unfinished objects  - from the depths of the hidden UFO stash. Hand to head, what's come over me? lol! Whatever it is, welcome back!!

So there's knitting on the needles and jewellery plans on the go too - even possibly selling some jewellery in my Etsy shop - so there should be regular posts again. Yay! I've missed talking to you all.

Synchronicity though.

Well, it's been a weird week for that I'll tell you. First my knitting mojo comes back full force, then today when I've been thinking about making some new artwork, I get two e-mails encouraging me to do just that! I think it's a sign! lol! Yeah, a sign to get my creative ass in gear again and enjoy myself making, designing and hopefully even make a living from this somehow?

So here's to new creative experimenting and hopefully more regular blogging ;)
Welcome back, hope to chat to you all soon!

elaine xxx

Friday, 21 September 2012

Celtic cable neckwarmer

It's been feeling more more autumnal here the last week or so which always makes me want to start hunting out loads of yarn and new knitting patterns for some warm, chunky knits. Preferably quick projects like hats, gloves or scarves but with a bit of a challenge to them as well. I managed to find one to start with - the Celtic cabled neckwarmer - full of complex looking cables with a simple button fastening around the neck for a warm snug fit. No flapping scarf ends with this one, just a neat fit for a snuggly neck come winter.

And snuggly it is:) I don't usually like too tight fitting things around my neck but this one has such a snuggle factor and is so warm that I'm tempted to knit another just for me:) I'm thinking a strong red or a forest green maybe? It didn't take that long to make either - a few evenings of tv watching and this knits up a treat. 

The neckwarmer itself is about 20" in length and has a three button fastening to keep it wrapped around the neck. I used two strands of DK yarn on 5mm needles to get a rough worsted weight yarn as per the pattern instructions. It has a simple 1x1 rib border with the cable chart repeated to the desired length then another section of 1x1 rib with two rows to incorporate the buttonholes. It took only 4 repeats for my knit to be 20" although it did feel a bit of a tight fit. But the pattern did say lightly block first so I had fingers crossed that it would ease the fit to a slightly bigger size. I suppose I could just have reblocked it bigger if it was still too neat for me:)

Cable repeat

If you don't want a neck wrap then you could just continue the cable repeats and make as long a scarf as you wanted. I quite like this idea too and I did consider it for a while till the shiny buttons convinced me that a neckwarmer was really the only way to go! Still, I'm not sure how many guys would want this style:)) Happy to be proved wrong!

There is an errata in the pattern at the first buttonhole row - just a small one:) I noted the changes I made on my ravelry project page here if you are thinking of making this yourself or want more technical details of this knit. I personally didn't want to add any bigger sized buttons to this aesthetically and found the buttonholes then a little on the large size so if I knit this again, I might alter that buttonhole row anyway and bind off one less stitch per buttonhole for a neater fit.

So, first knit of the autumn is done. I haven't knitted cables in a while so I really enjoyed this knit. I'd forgotten what a lovely textured effect cables can give and it's been fun to watch the crossovers of the pattern appear as you knit. Hmm, now what will be next on the needles? I think I'll have to have a good look around for some inspiration - something with a challenge, hehe :)

Off to have a scout around - see you all soon!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Pearl crossover bracelet

This week, the weather has pretty much turned into Autumn, that colder feel in the evenings and the nights drawing in. So my intention today was to put away the beads for a bit and get out the knitting needles to start a nice warm, snuggly 'something' ;) I had got as far as thinking something with cables that would knit up quickly so I entered into the dangerous world of Pinterest and started looking at my boards for inspiration. Did I get distracted? Of course!

I've recently started following quite a few new people and all these interesting photos had suddenly appeared that seriously needed investigating. All of a sudden I hit the jackpot with an amazing beading tutorial site and that was my day GONE, lol!! I have soooo many exciting new patterns I want to try now - just amazing. They only have diagrams to follow but I'm finding that quite easy now so my list of projects to make has just got a lot longer - ok, off the page longer - but it's all very exciting!

So this is the pattern I wanted to try today. It's very similar visually to the last bracelet but it uses the Fuchsia bicones at the edges instead of round beads which needs a slightly different construction method. These are the real deal crystals and they sparkle so nicely. I also got some new silver lined gold seed beads to add the crossover detail around the pearls. Alas, the pearls aren't the genuine freshwater variety but until they are in my price range, these will do ;) This pattern had the different crossover method I was wanting to try out too so this was the perfect opportunity to see how well it worked. Pretty good, so that's a keeper.
So, all in all a very good beading day today:) I'm thinking of trying a necklace version and/or earrings using this technique as well. Maybe not in this colourway but that will depend if I have enough beads for a larger necklace project. I've spent a lot of time sorting out my beads this last weekend after trying to make a matching necklace for my magenta medieval bracelet.  I just didn't have enough of one colour to finish so that was disappointing. Still, the more I practice, the more new techniques I can bring to designing. The more original designs I make the sooner I can sell them and make some money to afford some more beads, lol!! So, onwards with the experimentation!!

Hmm, what technique shall I try next? So much to learn!!

See you all soon,
elaine x

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Medieval Crossover bracelet

My first designed bracelet - what do you think? You may notice some similarities with the snakey bracelet I made last month but that only had one layer of overlaid beads on the top side. This one has the beading detail on both sides and going both directions to form a cross. So it has been fully decorated within an inch of its life!

I've loved testing out my design theories with this bracelet to see how patterns and structures could be explored and I have so many ideas to try next! I'd love to see this design as a necklace with some firepolish stones instead of rounds in the centre and it will give me a nice opportunity to work with basic shaping too. Of course, I bought a few more beads in the shop with this in mind :)

There are still a few modifications I'd like to try out to create a better finish where the 4 strands of beads meet but I have an idea for that too. Not that it's bad at all - I'm just a perfectionist! And if it takes just a little more thought at the design stage then that's all to the good.

One thing I have realised very quickly is that the good beads are really worth the money. The handle, weight and quality of finish is so very different with czech glass and pearls that you really don't want to go back to anything else afterwards. But the cheaper beads are good for experimentation and I'll have to save up quite a bit  first so I can build a proper 'stash' of shiny beads! Hopefully I'll have a good few designed patterns under my belt by then.

Hmm, so what beads will I use for that necklace version then? See you all soon!

elaine x

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Creative challenge complete!

      Weeks 3-4

1. spiral green vessel, 2. bracelet band, 3. Felted Pod, 4. Not available, 5. snakey, 6. jubilee earrings 2, 7. Not available, 8. snakey bracelet, 9. Pod detail, 10. green shield 2, 11. camino bubbles, 12. button detail, 13. jubilee earrings 3

Now we've moved into September, I thought I'd collate all the projects from the last two weeks of August's creative challenge into a little mosaic. Seems I made less finished pieces in the last fortnight but quite a few were two day tasks or more, so that's cool. As much as I like the excitement of making something in a day, the more complex patterns and experimental vessels are just not that quick! But sometimes the best ideas take time to grow if they're given a little space.

It's been a very interesting creative month where I've learned new wire and beading skills, refreshed on some textile ones like felting and the crochet wrapping, and of course it's always fun exploring new challenging knitting patterns! There are a few experimental samples that I'd like to revisit from this group of projects - the camino bubbles is ongoing and I feel there will be a few more little pods to keep POD company:) And I do intend to get back into pattern writing so the crochet lace parasol will be a definite contender.

     Weeks 1-2

1. turquoise ring, 2. waves and ladders, 3. copper wrapped earrings, 4. Sparkly!, 5. swirl sample, 6. spiral pendant, 7. Hand dyed yarn, 8. firebird, 9. turquoise ring, 10. green shield 2, 11. turquoise monastic weave, 12. copper bracelet, 13. knitted bracelet

Looking at the whole month overall, I am surprised at how much jewellery has made it's way into my creative journey. The wire wrapping is especially important as I can intergrate that into my vessels and hopefully take them to the next level. The beaded jewellery has been a very happy surprise. I've found that I just love constructing with beads. I suppose all my projects have a strong emphasis on construction at the moment - wrapping, weaving, knitting, even felting.

So where to now? Well, I have a good creative flow going on right now so I'm going to see where the creative journey takes me this month. Maybe slowing down just a little though but I'll still be posting every day or two. I'd like to spend some time designing patterns and doing more sketchbook work on new directions for the vessels too. I have a few ideas percolating away :)

I've also got ideas to open a jewellery etsy shop soon as at the rate I'm making beaded bracelets I could seriously stock a shop, lol! And I'm going to re-open my dyed yarn Esty shop for a bit too. I remembered this month how much I love playing with colour and I couldn't use all the yarn I'd dye - even if I tried super hard!! So when I dye some up for my vessels or create more graduating colourways, I'll pop some in the shop as well. I'll let you know in advance if anyone is interested.

But for now, I'm going to take the rest of the weekend off and knit me some camino bubbles watching a film - or two!

See you next week and thank you all for following and supporting me this month!
elaine x

Friday, 31 August 2012

Little felted pod...

Once upon a time there was a little felted pod. He started off a lot bigger but got felted and pulled and shaped and felted.... again and again. And he began to shrink, just a little. At one point you couldn't even see the lovely colours on his surface there was so much soap. But he began to notice that he could keep his organic curves better now and he was kind of liking the deliberate lopsidedness of his shape.

When he was put beside the other stones in the garden, he thought he was the best dressed Pod in the neighbourhood :) He had lovely ochre yellows and grey/green contrasts with some nifty highlights in there too. And as if to prove that, he was now getting lots of attention from someone with a camera, obviously admiring his looks!

So he maganimously obliged and gave a few poses showing off all his lovely colours from many angles. Click, click... and a close-up? Of course, don't mind if you do..... did you catch that lovely orangey/yellow detail?... you did! Excellent :) Click, click......

And then.... it was over. Pod relaxed again, contentedly basking in the sun. It would be nice, he thought lazily, to have some other little pods to talk to. Stones weren't the greatest of conversationalists. Maybe he could persuade the pod maker to create him some company? Now there was a very good idea.......

......and then they could all live happily ever after :)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Felted pod - part one

Last night as I was finishing my blog post,  I had the notion of making a small felted pod, to get back into felt making again and explore 3D forms more. I just wanted to keep it a simple form so the colour and fleece qualities would stand out more.

I have lots of fleece in my stash but my favourites are the hand dyed ones I got from DT Craft & Design when I joined their Fibre adventure club a few years ago. Each month you got a dyed colourway with several types of fleece: roving, tops, silk tops, etc. Each bag was like a little treasure trove arriving each month :) I never got round to using it all so it's been sitting there waiting for the right project to come along - and for me to have enough energy to do some lovely felting again.

'Lovely lichen' -  Fibre adventure club december 2009

I must say I have sorely missed felting. I've really enjoyed my afternoon up to the elbows in fleece, soap suds and bubble wrap! I didn't realise how much satisfaction I get from playing with fibres and all that tactile yumminess!

I chose to work with 'Lovely lichen' as it had some gorgeously soft roving with contrasting delicate silk tops, and I was thinking these pod shapes would look interesting mimicking stones, or weathered dry stone walls - with lichen on them:)

The simple pod form uses a resist technique. In this case, I used a plastic circle inside and wrapped fleece around the form, alternating each flat side as I went, building up colour and tonal values. The detail and decoration went on as the last layer.

I've wrapped the layers and started fixing the top detailing in place here. The silk tops was a bit slippy and didn't want to bond with the roving much. I gave it extra rolls and more pressure with the bamboo mat and it mostly fused. I'll have to remember that next time I use it so I can open up the silk fibres more to get a better grip.

This was as far as I got today before my energy ran out. But I'm pleased with how far I managed. I haven't been able to do any felting since I got chronic fatigue so this is a huge step forward for me. I love felting but it is one of the most demanding techniques energy-wise. So today was also a test to see if I could manage - and I have a nearly finished pod -YES! :))) It has definitely taken me much longer than before but that doesn't matter - as long as I can felt again!

So what needs to be done to finish? I've got to the stage where I can now cut an opening for the pod and take out the plastic. The felted circle has now shrunk enough to be smaller than the plastic disk so it needs to come out, and the fleece - and the silk - is all well anchored in place. So next I have to felt the cut edge, smooth out the side seams, then start shaping the pod. So not much left to do, and then some photos. Felt can reflect the light and bleach out the colours, so capturing the true colours could take a while. It would look lovely on a stony beach, wouldn't it? :)

Well, I'm off  to bed now, to recharge my energy batteries for tomorrow. There is a pod waiting to be finished:)

See you all soon!
elaine x

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beaded wrap bracelet

Ta-da!! We have a finished beaded bracelet to reveal today:) I've really enjoyed working on this one, very logical, simple to thread but has built up into a nice complex bracelet overall.  It has a rather medieval feel to it doesn't it with all that dense beading.

We left this partway through row 2 yesterday. That row was quickly finished and I was pleased I remembered the pattern without too much of a refresher. Row 3 was very simple to do as well. I was expecting some complex interweaving to hold those middle beads in place but it literally threaded straight down the middle!! I was happily surprised it was so easy, hehe :)

The pattern suggested finishing off with a clasp fastening like a bar and circle but I used my last one up on the snakey bracelet last week so I decided to improvise:) I used a decorative metal button from my stash instead and made a re-inforced loop from the dark purple seed beads for it to fit through. I strengthened that loop so many times it's not breaking, no way!

I spent quite a bit of time photographing this evening trying to see how best to show off the pattern and the button. One thing I've done a lot of this month is brush up on my photography skills with all these final shots!! It's fun when you have the time to spend, playing about with different coloured backgrounds and presentation styles. I need to work on it so when I open my Etsy shop it'll look professional - I hope!

I didn't manage to catch the daylight in time today so I might take some more photos tomorrow and compare the difference. No rain, please!

I am feeling a lot more confident with the beading patterns now so I'll be hunting for some more patterns to try next., the more complex the better! I might even try and design one of my own soon, lol!

Well, there are only a few more days of the August creative challenge left so just enough time to squeeze a few more projects in, don't you think? I think I know just the thing........ :)

See you all tomorrow,
elaine x


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