Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ongoing circles....

Just a quick progress check for you to see what I've been up to the last few days. The last time these crocheted circles made an appearance was away back at the end of february. Seems such a long time ago now. But I've been working on them on and off, crocheting and stitching away slowly, building up ideas and enough circles to make something with. This piece is more of an experiment - with a different type of wire (fail), with the length of dyed repeats (...maybe), and using families of regular circles to create the overall look. Mixed results so far.

It's not been in a hurry to emerge this one, just quietly ambling alongside all the other projects that have quickly come and gone. This month though, it has suddenly looked as if it is 'progressing' which gave me a spur to get working on it again! It's beginning to take on a 3D form and I've been taking newer photos today, playing with the form, light and shadows again so we'll be able to see them soon.

But for now, you can see the work in progress - my messy table! It's still not finished, still morphing and giving me new surface and 3D ideas which I'll have to get down on paper before I forget them:) - I think  more time has gone into my ideas sketchbook than on the final piece so far:)) To help maintain its 3D shape it will need a bit more height and since all these circles in the photo are now used up, it could well be time to get back to creating wire circles and plan a little more crochet.

I'm also getting the urge to dye more yarns to use for these forms so lots planned for you to see soon :)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A long rambling walk

The sun is shining and the day is so beautiful that I just couldn't stay inside for another minute! Today, I decided, is a day for a lovely long rambling walk - with camera in tow. It's a truly mild, balmy day with a little breeze to stop you from getting too hot or sunburned so perfect really. So outside we go away from all the noise and people and absorb nature's ambience:) Want to come?

In real terms, this lovely place isn't far from my house, I can see it from the window - so no travelling needed, just across the road, and down a wee lane and then you can wander and enjoy. In Cornwall there are a lot of old mining sites with pools and engine houses now merging back into nature, softening the stark industrial look these places would once have had. Now this man made lake is a haven for a huge array of birds, butterflies and plants. More like a nature reserve really. I always think this engine house would make a perfect artists studio - think of all the light coming in that top window space! And the view! Shame it's a listed heritage building!

Moving a bit to the left of the building you can see the reed beds and nesting places of the multitude of birds - except there wasn't a bird in sight for the camera today. I think they were enjoying the balmy breeze and soaring on the warm thermals. Can't blame them:) I can hear the buzzards crying way up high and some seagulls have come inland a bit too - noisy lot!

Back on our walk, we move away from the lake and climb up the hill to the top to see the view. Don't have a panoramic button on my camera but from here you can view Cornwall pretty much 360 degrees. Past the moorland, rolling over the checkered fields and trees and way into the distance. To the left is the south coast towards St Austell, to the right you can see St Agnes and Newquay. In front here, you can see very faintly the hills and dips looking over towards St Ives and Lands End. Beautiful. I stopped here for a bit and just enjoyed the peacefulness of the place.

After dragging myself away, we follow the path back down and along, passing banks of gorgeous Rosebay Willow Herb. I love these flowers and remember them everywhere as a child. They just seem so colourful and expansive, filling their space in the world. Hardy, robust but delicate all at the same time. I would have this filling my garden if it wouldn't take over and submerge everything in a world of pink!

We pass more and more pink and I finally manage to get a close-up without the wind blowing madly. I think it was deliberate:) Every time I would click, a gust of wind would suddenly appear to blur the photo. But I got one! Right beside the last place I want to show you on my little walk - the pool.

Hidden away off the track is another pool, surrounded by trees and has the feeling of an undiscovered treasure. You have to wade through a lot of bracken and brambles to get here but it is so worth it. You feel enveloped as if you have entered a secret safe haven. It's very peaceful and there is little noise other than the drone of bees visiting the flowers. Sigh of contentment. I could sit here for ages, just watching the water ripple or listen to the trees gently rustling in the breeze. It reminds me of 'Swallows and Amazons'  a book I used to read when I was young, where the characters played on the water in small wooden boats with bright red sails, camping on the shore underneath the trees in an idyllic childhood of bygone days. This pool so reminds me of how I imagined that story all those years ago.

And then the world re-asserts itself and it's time to go home. Back through the bracken and past the lovely pink hedgerows, past the lake with its reedbeds, noisy seagulls  and lonely engine house, with everyday noises increasing as you go. Soon the path rejoins the rest of the world and we are back home again, still savouring our little adventure. Just what you need to recharge your creative batteries ready to get going on some new work and ideas.

I'll be back soon enough though, to enjoy it all another day:)

Friday, 24 June 2011

150 flowers done!

A little bit of crochet and the last row of flowers are done! Feeling good now. 150 flowers all ready to crochet into the finished blanket - at last! This is the bit I've been waiting for; the balancing of the coloured edgings against all the other flowers in situ - should be fun:) I might not be able to see the floor for a few days/weeks, but at least it will look colourful! I also have a feeling the cat will decide that this blanket should belong to her....of course;) I will try to catch her on the camera sneaking into prime comfy position - right in the centre, I'm thinking!

The weather here is very wet and dismal today so perfect for snuggling inside for some hooky time. Now, just need to find a good film to watch and I can get started. No deadline for this really but I need to get back on a roll and keep the crochet mojo going;) I haven't seen any finishing rows/borders on other versions of this - maybe nearer the time crochet blanket experts may have some suggestions for me? Maybe it won't look as if it needs one..... but all ideas would be very welcome!

Righty-ho, I'm off for some flower hooky fun. Starting the count - 149, 148, 147...... :))  See you all soon with another update!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

143 hawaiian flowers - nearly there!

Today the sun came out again after a very grey, wet and windy week. At last! The sun can make you feel so much better can't it? And this being the longest day today - summer solstice - it felt fitting that it should feel like summer at least;) Anyway, the sun came shining in the window and brightened up a pile of crochet stashed in a shelf waiting to be finished. The hawaiian flower blanket! Yes, all the pretty little flower motifs were glowing brightly and shouting 'Finish me! You know there isn't much to do....' and you know? they're right!

Half the problem with this project was I hadn't decided just what size I intended to make at the start. It swung from being a cot blanket to a kingsize throw - in a giddy moment of enthusiasm:) - then swiftly back again when I realised just how many motifs I would need for that large a project! So I decided to count the flowers and see just how many I would need to turn this UFO into a ta-da baby blankie. 143 is the count so far, but what size is that in real baby blanket terms? Hadn't a clue so I ran upstairs and laid out all the motifs on the bed to see the scale so far......

Forgive the photos - the sun being out for once affected the tones of the bright colours. Weird. Anyway, this is what 143 flowers looks like. I get 10 x 14 rows with 3 remaining flowers. I would say that looked big enough to me;)) So I've decided to go for 10x15, crochet another 7 flowers and call it DONE!

It will still need the final round of edging to create the petal look which means I can join as I go rather than have lots of ends to sew in afterwards. Well, that's the theory. And it will make it a little bigger - possibly, although I have left gaps in the layout to compensate for that final edging. I think it will look nice and jolly once it's all done - and I won't feel guilty every time I look at that shelf now:))

I'll keep you posted....;)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A bit of progress....

There's been lots of loom tlc being going on this last week or so - the loom has been de-rusted, all the headles put back in their place and restrung with a shockingly white cord :) and the wood has been waxed and polished in layers till it's shining. Seems such a quick process summed up in one sentence but I seemed to be working on it over quite a few days.

Here she is, the little 4 shaft table loom all polished and looking a lot better than she did. See the dazzlingly white cord? :) I think the longest part was having to split and count the headles equally after cleaning and putting them all back on the 4 shafts again. Boring job so I grabbed some music to sing along to which made it seem a much quicker process, lol! I didn't need to sand or varnish the wood after all either as the beeswax polish worked into the surface really well and got rid of the water stains I had been worrying about. Seems they were only varnish deep - yay!

One thing still to do before I can get weaving again is to replace the cloth on the front and back beams. Ok, it's looking grubby but on unraveling, I found the fabric is brittle and perishing. Given that this loom is probably a good 40 years old, maybe more, I think the original fabric has done well! So I have some new, sturdy fabric ready to be cut, sewn and stapled back into place. Nearly there! Then I have the longer task of refreshing my memory on double weave - that could take considerably longer than the loom fixing. I think I need to have a really good app for my brain to retrieve all that info from years ago, lol! They probably will in about 50 years time but till then at least I have the internet:)

Just have to stop getting distracted by socks and 3D crochet vessels.... more on that to come :)

Have a good day whatever you're doing!

Monday, 13 June 2011

The lonely sock....

As many of you know, I seem to fall victim to the deadly second sock syndrome on a regular basis :) I can race through one sock but fail to muster enough oomph to continue onto the second. I enjoy the challenge of the new pattern or technique but not the repetition of it - hence a lot of single socks, gloves, mitts and armwarmers are hibernating all over the place in their incomplete state, making me feel guilty every time I rediscover one.

So last friday, when I was looking around for an easy knit in the evening, I stumbled across this poor, lonely single 2x4 rib sock I started. No specific pattern for this one as I just knitted a basic toe-up sock with a short row heel and added a simple rib to compliment the busy hand painted yarn.  The yarn isn't one of my dyed yarns:), it's from Zitron Trekking's hand art range. I've had it for quite a while and it's been tried out with a few sock patterns with little success. I love the randomness of the colour drifts but it always fights even the simpler patterns so rib it was destined to be.

Because this is for a gift, I increased my stitch count to 66 sts instead of my customary 60 to fit a large womans/small mans sock size. (If you needed to decrease or increase the size, just work with a multiple of 6 and knit as long as you need to the heel.) The sole is smooth, the top is ribbed and after the heel shaping, the rib is continued in the round for as high as you want to make them. The cuff is a nice stretchy 1x1 rib and the bind off is extra loose. I remind myself every time and still I always have to unpick the bind off. I think I'm knitting it soooo loose and then when you try and get the damn thing on it gets stuck at the heel :)) So, for me loose means looooose!

So, progress so far on the second sock? You will be proud of my staying power! I knitted all friday, saturday and a little of sunday night and I have raced through the cast on, zoomed up the sole, conquered the heel and am now on the home straight up to the cuff. Wooo! See what I can do when I just get past that second sock syndrome? :)

So now the lonely sock might actually become a matching pair after all :)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Diagonal silk bag

While the headles from the loom are de-rusting in a basin of some acetic acid (brilliant for rust btw), I thought I'd show you one of the projects that has been finished recently. Now this one really deserved to be finished a long time ago and has been sitting in the hibernation pile for I think several years, which was silly as once I got started again it was such a quick knit. The only thing that stopped me at the time was the tendancy for the silk yarn to break at thin bits and drop stitches. Trying to find and and fix dropped stitches with such a scrappy yarn repeatedly made me sideline it until I could either think of a way to prevent the problem or gather enough patience to give it another go! So two years later, I had a plan and patience;) and we had a go.

Beautiful yarn though, such lovely rich colours to knit with, lovely. The pattern is from a while ago and is called 'Unbiased' by Stephanie Shiman. You can find it here. It's a simple but effective bag knitted on the bias in four separate pieces, then stitched together and a strap added. It's all done in garter stitch and on 5mm needles, so it knits up very fast indeed.

The original pattern makes a sizeable tote bag with 3 balls of the silk yarn but I couldn't afford three at £25 each at the time so I just got one and decided to scale down the bag a bit:) If you're on Ravelry, you can find all the mods on my project page at tootiefruitie as well.

I had to start a few times to get the right percentage of proportions for my one little silk ball but the bonus is the smaller it is, the less you have to rip back:) I revised the measurement of each of the 4 sections to:

Width = 5” along base which makes the full bag width 10” (with two panels together)

Height = 11” on outside edge

Height where two panels meet in the middle ‘V’ = 7”

I followed the pattern instructions for the assembly but had to make some adaptions for the strap. As it’s a more petite tote, I only used 6 sts for the strap width - ideally binding off each section to the last 3sts (instead of the patterns 5). As this only occurred to me afterwards,  I K2tog at the beginning of each row till I had 6 sts remaining. I quite like this effect though as it looks like the strap is tapering down, so it’s all good.

The strap length was of necessity only as long as the amount of yarn I had left - I used every scrap left to graft the two strap ends together but you could make this as long as you like depending on the amount of yarn left. As it’s such a messy yarn no knots or seams show at all - perfect!

All in all this took me about 3 or 4 evenings watching tv to knit so quicker if you were on a roll:) The yarn was a pain to work with as it was unevenly spun and I kept having to untwist the ply just to get an evenish yarn to knit with. But do be careful not to untwist it too much as the yarn loosens too much and snaps and you have dropped stitches and another knot  - she says feelingly! Saying all that I think the yarn is worth it for the richness and the handle of the silk.

This pattern makes me think about recycling scrap fabrics and spinning them together into nice chunky yarns. It would be really good way to use up all those scraps..... :) Another thing to add to my wish list! Right, I think the headles should be rust free by now so off I go to wash them off and rebuild the loom.


ETA: About the rust - Only use acetic acid if it's not shifting any other way. I started with WD40 and some fine grain sandpaper, when that didn't shift the stubborn bits, I moved onto a brillo pad/wire wool. Only then did I use acetic acid/white vinegar and it has to be washed off with soapy water afterwards as the acetic acid can keep reacting with the metal even after it comes out of the basin.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

June is bursting out all over :)

June is here, the sun has been out, the garden has been going wild and the flowers are making everything  have a bright and cheery look all of a sudden. I've been away for quite a wee while recently but now I am back and raring to get going again. I have some finished projects to reveal, some ongoing larger projects on the go and a huge list of things I suddenly want to fit into my summer - weaving, dyeing, pattern designing, lots of knitting;) and oh, yes, lots more knitting!

I've been tidying out my shed/workshop in preparation for all the 'work' that I will be doing :) After I cleaned out all the clutter that had accumulated, I discovered my loom will need a little tlc before I can get any making done. But new linen for the rollers, clean up any rust and possibly a new wax or varnish will bring it back to looking brand new - she says hopefully! Then I can get onto rediscovering double weave. By the time I have made the repairs, I will have had time to read up all about it and refresh my memory - nothing like a new challenge:)

This will be my weaving view out of the shed window (I had to rehouse a few spiders and clean the window first :) Can't wait till all the orange lilies and crocosmia come out in the right bed, then it will be a riot of bright colour. Jungle garden:)) Ah, a good name for a new range of dyed yarns maybe? I was meant to convert this back to grass this summer but I don't have the heart to get rid of all the lovely plants and the garden has far too many plants already to relocate them. What a shame, it'll just have to stay as it is for just a little longer, wink:)

Some beautiful inspiring displays in nature at the moment too. This is the climbing hydranga just outside the shed window, to the left. It's in a lovely sheltered spot so it should flower well again this year. I'll have to go around and take lots more detailed shots while the weather is good. I missed a lot of beautiful detail on the irises a few weeks ago as I just forgot to grab my camera and take some close-ups. Hopefully if I'm blogging more again, I'll remember to think blog, camera, photos a little more often!

Hope you are all getting a little bit of sunshine wherever you are today:)
elaine x


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