Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Creature comforts!

Just a quick update on my ripple blanket. As you can see, nothing much is happening - but I think it passes the snuggability test! I only have about maybe 20 rows to complete of this full king size throw but it seems to be more a matter of can I actually retrieve it to finish?

* starring the little black cat from next door....

UPDATE: my computer at home has bitten the dust , just up and went kapoot on me, dead as a doornail, so I'll try and get back to you as soon as possible. Fingers crossed it's fixable but not holding out much hope. I think the CPU has gone........

Verity beret - progress!

Well, we have some progress on the beret front. Unveiling the petrol-blue coloured verity - tried the large size for this one, but don't recommend it unless you really need to or you want the fullest, puffiest hat out there! Also the 100% wool yarn I used from my stash - no label - is a bit rough feeling and I'm not convinced it has that 'present quality' feel. And as this is intended for a present, I think I might have to wash or even felt it a little to get a better feel. If worst comes to worst, I have got some greeny/blue alpaca silk in reserve......

This was completed before I started the new rosered beret and since then I have realised all my verity berets aren't quite right. It primarily uses the YO technique for lacy increases and as I found out this week, I've not been doing that right. It still looks okay, but it's irritating now I know there's a mistake. But I think 3 verity berets are enough and I will have to live and learn, I think!
This is a milestone for me - the perfectionist. I am resisting the urge to rip them all back and start again. But think of all the other hats, projects I could be doing in that time! They look okay as they are and only other fellow knitters may notice.....

As for the purple verity, ripped back twice to increase the size.... no, it is still too small. My sister is being very diplomatic and is trying to stretch it through wear, but I really don't want to cut off the circulation to her head!! So, I'm thinking of another rosered - maybe in that soft alpaca silk? - and sending that to her so she can send me the purple verity back for a major rethink. A rethink being totally ripped back and knitted up in another yarn!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Japanese Textiles

I've been meaning to post about this book for ages. The textile artist Shihoko Fukumoto creates wonderful large wall and installation pieces that are visually stunning. In part of her artists statement she describes her work as trying to capture the path of the wind - the use of indigo dyeing and what appears to be a pleating technique repeated in units do create the overall visual effect of these paths of movement.

Complete panel of units suspended.... There is a definite sense of strength from the dark diagonal shifts, cutting through the flow and forcing the design to expand abruptly. But even this is a regular shift - you can imagine how this repeat pattern could expand across the wall.

Close-up detail of pleated fan shaped fabric panels... Each section looks quite big so the pleating must all be done by hand - no regularity of smockers here! They also seem to billow out a little at the bottom of the white section adding a three dimensional aspect of movement to the piece.

That is a lot of fans!

Not all Fukumoto's work is pleated though. She also produces expansive graduated, indigo dyed pieces that are painstakingly produced through the dyeing process and the manipulation of the fabric's surface.

To find out more about her work, please click the links to:

and this New York gallery article.

If you are interested in the book, follow this link to the publisher Telnos. I'm not sure if they are the cheapest but you could check out Amazon too.


Thursday, 17 April 2008

Rose Red

This lovely hat designed and made by Ysolda is Rose Red, my knitting project of the moment. I am including the original picture as mine is nowhere near finished yet but it gives you an idea of the complexity and balance of this pattern. If you want to look at it in more detail or try knitting it you can buy it here. I would highly recommend this as an elegant, considered design that looks complex and gives you a feeling of achievement - and a damn good looking hat when you've finished. (People think you have awesome knitting skills!)

Anyway, this has also shown me just how rusty my hand knitting skills are! Using the knitting machine enables me to see structure and form more easily but I'm having to remember abbreviations in hand knit that I took for granted before. It's like you still understand the structure and what it should look like but the sequence with the needles isn't flowing quite as smoothly as it once did. So, these hat patterns by Ysolda are gently breaking me back into hand knitting.

I'm checking everything - YO for instance. I thought I knew this one at least but since I mucked up SSK and had to look online for a video, I began to question myself and decided to check how much of my knowledge was a bit faulty. So I discoverd that YO is done differently if you follow with a Knit stitch or a purl. Thank you Knitwitch for your online videos! Now my hats are looking more like the pictures!

Progress so far.....

See? Now we have perfect crisp YO's and in the next section we will have lovely SSK's! They will be beautiful! I also went out and treated myself to some Debbie Bliss yarn to knit this in - A darker red Cashmerino DK. It is so soft to the touch and makes you value your knitting that little bit more. If this one works out then I will use this or Ysolda's verity pattern for the next pressie on my list. I also got some Alpaca silk - again debbie Bliss - in a green/blue shade. Aaahh.... such lovely colours and so soft! So keep a look out in the next week for that one too. Maybe Ysolda will have written another hat pattern by then?!

I am also beginning to use Ravelry more now, so you can also check any progress there too if you are already a Ravelry member - registered as tootiefruitie!

Until then, happy knitting!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

snow, snails and...... seeds!

We have flowers! Okay, we didn't actually plant them, but we can now appreciate the beauty that is the primrose. We did have to relocate a few of them as the snails were finding them very tasty indeed so hopefully they will all recover and have a chance to bloom.

Also we have our recovered daisies - well one of them. The unexpected snow caused the flowers to burn. This one is a lot happier now but the other is feeling a bit sorry for itself as it has lost all its flowers and the leaves look a bit wilted. It is trying to make a tentative comeback but it'll take a bit of time.

Now, the news you have all been waiting for........seeds!

Yes, the seeds have decided to push their heads out of the soil to see what is going on. They may be very proud of the fact they are the first to arrive but a little lonely as yet. The rest of the trays are still bare.

But they are a week behind so I must not get impatient.

Okay, I am impatient and I've been down to check them again and the tomatoes have now also decided to join in but not as prolifically. When they get to a size we can really see them I'll take a photo. Right now, it would be spot the tiny green dot!

Lastly, a little look at the little seed house - it does look like a little house doesn't it? Anyway, they are all nice and warm in there and since I bought it, the seeds have decided to sprout! More news as they grow....

Finally, I'll leave you with a pretty picture - the seeds can dream of the flowers they may one day become.....

Anyone know what this is officially called? - doesn't need to be latin!

Monday, 14 April 2008

The art of felt

Just a quick post to tell you about this felting book by Francoise Tellier-Loumagne. If you are interested in creative textiles then she has a series of books showing a clear development of ideas from photograph to completed outcome. They are very inspirational and enable you to envisage the techniques easily. I like them for the wide range of experimentation and they give you that 'push' or spark of creativity that has you wanting to 'make'.

So far, she has produced 'the art of knitting' and 'the art of embroidery' and I have loved them both. So now, after 4 months of waiting for Amazon to stock and deliver it, 'the art of felt' has arrived!

So far the prognosis is good. It does have a different feel from the first two - I'm not sure if this is because the proportion of techniques to experimentation seems smaller or because I expected more 'how-to' information. But that doesn't mean I'm disappointed! The cover is a good example of the drawing capabilities of felt and the combinations of dry and wet felting techniques. The photographs are stunning - this is always a real strength of her books and well considered for visual language. Composition, colour, textures, detail are all so well balanced, it is a pleasure to peruse.

It is less a techniques book - although it does cover this - but more an inspirational guide to using these techniques in a creative and inspiring way. It is rare to find a felting book that considers the creative aspects of felt towards an art form or compositional piece. I find that refreshing and inspirational.

Will follow up with some images from the book - once my computer decides to be co-operative!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

How does your garden grow?

Isn't it lovely when you get a surprise parcel in the post? It can change your whole outlook for the day and if you were remotely down, gives you a nice lift - a comfortable loved feel to know someone is thinking of you.

These lovely pressies arrived yesterday from my sister, all thoughtfully considered for what they would mean for me. My gran used to have red hot pokers in her garden and now, so can I. It's funny how you realise that your family or siblings are the only ones who truly 'get' who you are and know what old music, films, sweets, colours are intrinsically you. Today, I fully value just what I do have and how lucky I am to have someone caring and supportive looking out for me.

So now I have all these lovely bulbs and seeds to plant - but where?

Now the weather is moving onwards through Spring, I felt it was time to tackle the garden. When we moved last October, there seemed so many other very important things to do, that had to be done before the garden. So, no trimming, weeding or cutting back ever got done. Now everything is sprouting with a vengance and it all seems a bit chaotic. So the last few weeks of my Easter holiday has been trying to develop order from the chaos.

The main efforts we have been slogging over are building walls and steps, trying to keep the cottage garden feel without killing any plants. These green fingers aren't tried and tested yet!

The circle we have inherited and it is well and truly cemented down. I'm not sure about it but I can live with it for a while. I think softening the edges might help or a large round table for summer. (Now I've seen the price of these tables, I'm thinking a few flowers around the edge!) The huge effort has been turning over the earth - stones, boulders, cement.... Can't we just get onto the planting?

I have planted my first seeds but nothing to show there yet - I can show you what is already flowering in the garden....

This has just come into bloom - isn't it lovely? With the surprise snow and frost over the last few days, it has been incredibly hardy considering. Just as well my little seedings have been well protected. When they sprout, then we can have some progress. This is the first time I have had my own garden to plan and organise and I am finding a lovely sense of calmness and peace in doing so. I can understand why so many people love this - it could be addictive!

I also didn't think I would be so protective of my seeds! I am impatient for even a tiny flash of green shoot! But its only two or three days for the earliest ones - still a ways to go.

Some more flowers in the wall at the front getting some afternoon sunshine....

The front wall with lots of space for little surprises. Once my trailing lobelia have sprouted I can get more colour and detail over the edges.



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