Monday, 28 October 2013

Learning Something New During Wool Week

Firstly a warm Thank-You to those who voted for me after my last post.  I came third!  I am very grateful for your kind support.  Now on with my new post:
Last week there were many events across the whole of the United Kingdom to celebrate the wonderful fibre of wool, as can be seen here on the events page from the Campaign for Wool website.  But there were also a number of local events here in Scotland to participate in.  The John Lewis department store ran workshops, which you can read about here on Alison's blog.  One of my favourite Scottish blogs is by Kate Davies and that was where I first read about Wool Week on the Shetland Islands.  One day I would love to visit Shetland wool week, as they have so many events on offer, plus the Mister would be kept amused with all the photography, hiking and fishing opportunities!

The closest event for me was a one-day event offered by Deborah Gray just 3 villages away.  Deborah teaches wool spinning,dying and all sorts of other wooly skills, running workshops in both Scotland and sunny Italy!  Plus she had just been to Shetland to teach workshops and was offering to show photos from her trip.  You too can see some of her photos and read about her time on Shetland here.  Apart from spinning, dying and felting she was also offering an evening workshop to teach and improve the technique of Fair Isle knitting.  Now this is something I am VERY interested in learning.

So here is my first ever attempt at Fair Isle Knitting:
Here's a shot of my stranding on the back:

Three new techniques I have learnt

Deborah taught me how to use a 100cm long circular needle to work this 40 stitch wide sample in the round by pulling the cord through my work about half way around, a technique she called the Magic Loop.  

I also learnt to knit with the background colour in my right hand and the pattern colour in my left and when I wanted to knit the pattern colour I did this using the continental or picking method.  It will make the pattern sit up high like the background colour.

When knitting the ribbed section, I did the purl stitches with the pearl colour in my right hand and used the picking method with the background colour in my left.  This makes the pearl stitches sit up just as high as the knit stitches.

The Result

I have only made a little sample to test out my knitting tension.  So far I think I am knitting too tightly so I will buy a needle one size up and try another knitted swatch to see if I can get the tension to match the pattern.  Which leads me to my next wonderfully woolly treat.  Unbelievably, some of the kits that Deborah had available to learn Fair Isle knitting were designs from my knitting idol Kate Davies!
Peerie means little in the Shetland dialect, and you can read about Kate's design and see some lovely photos of her wearing it here.
...AND the wool I am using is spun and dyed on Shetland with wool from Shetland sheep!
Such a serendipitous workshop for me - three things I have long admired all coming together in one evening!  Shetland wool week, Kate Davies pattern and learning to do Fair Isle knitting!
If you did anything for Wool Week I would love to hear about it!  Feel free to post any links about your Wool Week experience in the Comments box below.
I have now finished this lovely hat - you can see it on my blog by clicking here.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Voting is still open

After seeing two favourite bloggers Margo and Julia enter into the Project Sewn competition, I decided to add an entry too.  There is only one more day of voting to go, so I also thought it wouldn't hurt to put in a mention here about it.  Would love it if you could go over and have a look, I am dress number 14, but of course do vote for whichever dress you think sums up a person's Signature Style.
Project Sewn Signature Style Competition.
Thanks so much everybody!  You might even see some new bloggers to follow - I did!
NOTE: Voting has now closed.  I came third!  Wa-hee!!  Thank you so much for your support!
This is the dress I have entered - perfect for this weather

Friday, 18 October 2013

Autumn is making me Blue

Like so many countries, Scotland is just beautiful in the Autumn.  The air now has a crispness to it that wasn't there a week ago and I love it.  
Long sleeved t-shirts have been a staple in my wardrobe ever since I moved to Scotland, and I have acquired quite the collection of these long-sleeved-lovelies so I want to let them be seen.  The answer came to me after I made Butterick 5523 in May this year.  I could make this comfy and practical knit dress without the sleeves and collar in a neutral tone that would blend in with lots of my long-sleeved-lovelies and let their colours and prints really sing.  But the colour would also need to go with my boots - I practically live in boots during the cold months and have 2 great pairs: tan and navy blue.  And so my blue tunic was born!
Lucky me - beautiful country!
I am loving this dress and have already worn it to work, to meetings and on this day for a long car journey.  It looks great with a blouse underneath too and the fabric is quite a thick two-way stretch knit that doesn't crease too easily and is very warm.
I still love the back tab and pleats too!


I added 4 " to the hem and made some cutting changes to the neckline.  The original pattern has a collar but without the collar it would be too low, so you can see on the right hand piece in this photo I kept a bit of fabric in the dipped curve of the neckline.  On both the back piece and the front piece I folded the shoulder pieces in to eliminate a bit of width on the shoulder - I folded it to the 5/8 stitch line (you can just see these folds on the far left and far right of the photo below)
back pattern piece and front pattern piece

Now that it is finished and I have worn it a bit, there are three things that I am going to change about this dress.  Firstly my stretch stitch.  I chose a stitch that does 3 stitches then jumps to the side for one zig zag.  I used this on my other Butterick 5523 and it worked a treat.  But this time it looks awful.  The point of the zig zag stitch is really visible.  I should have had the bulk of my fabric inside the arm of my machine so that the solitary zig zag would point inwards towards the seam allowance, then the 3 long stitches would have created a sharper more regular seam line.  I am going to do the waist, side and shoulder seams again.  You can see what I mean about the visible solitary zig zag points along the waistline in the photo below.

The second thing I am going to change is the method I used to edge the neckline and armholes.  I just made it up as I went along when really I should have searched for a tutorial first.  As soon as I had cut out my bodice pieces I stitched a strip of white woven tape to the stitch line, 5/8 from the edge.  Then I folded over the seam allowance to the back and stitched it down onto the woven tape.  It does give it a firm edge and from the outside I am very pleased with the way it holds the shape of the fabric.  But the problem is that I can see the white tape!  I should have used black or at least have folded the seam allowance over further so that it would cover it up. 
Thirdly I wish I had made it two sizes smaller.  Now that there are no sleeves there is a lot of gape in the bodice beneath the arms.  I am going to take in the side bodice.

All in all, I do love this comfy, just-throw-it-on dress and it will get a lot of wear this Autumn.  This is also the first of my Fall Essentials Sew Along completed.  One down, four to go!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Autumn Quilting Plans

Firstly a lovely Thank You to anybody who voted for me in the Viewer's Choice of Favourite Mini Holiday Quilts.  I did not win Judge's Choice nor the Viewer's Choice, nor one of the randomly drawn prizes.  But I do get to live with my sweet little Isle of Skye quilt, and without the competition I may never have finished this little wall hanging, which makes me smile whenever I walk past it, and so for that I am thankful.  And so onto the future:

Recently I posted my garment sewing goals for Autumn here, so I thought I would also set out my crafty sewing goals too.

Hand Sewing

I started piecing together some little hexagons from Very Berry fabrics.  I don't know what I will do with them yet, but so far I have started stitching them into flower shapes.  By the end of the year I would like to have them become a part of something.  Ideas anyone?
Late last year I bought a DVD to teach myself how to do needle-turned applique and then signed myself up for a Block of the Month set of patterns.  I now have all nine patterns but have only finished four blocks.  I am being VERY hopeful putting this one down as a Finishing goal, but I love the idea that in a perfect world I may actually get this finished!


I bought a lovely jelly roll full of Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacobs pastel prints that I want to make into a sort of trellis patchwork quilt.  So far I've prepared my strips ready for the cutting and sewing into 9-patch blocks, but that is all.  I think this has a good chance of being completed as it is fairly easy sewing and will all be done by machine.   Although I do enjoy learning new skills with each of my creations, perhaps I will set this on point too, and maybe enroll myself in a Long Arm course and then quilt it myself?  Now those would be very useful new skills to have.

I am linking up with lots of other quilting ladies who are recording their goals for the rest of 2013.
she can quilt

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Voting has opened

I have never entered any of my home-made items into a competition before now, but having it as an online competition was such an appealing idea.  The online sewing community seem to only comment positively and are otherwise encouraging and constructive when help is needed.
If you have a few minutes, please go over to Celtic Thistle Stitches and have a look at the entries.  There are three categories  - cushions, wall hangings, bags.  You can have one Viewer's Choice vote in each category by clicking on the little love heart of your favourite. Thank you, but the VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED.
Please just vote for your favourites of course, don't feel you have to choose my entry, in fact I won't remind you which one is mine.  Making a stitched item based on a holiday memory is such a lovely idea, hope you might try it yourself some time.

Just so that this post has a photo, here is a picture taken of me on our Anniversary weekend this Summer.  It has been a very pleasant Summer here in Scotland (at last we've had a good one!)
Both these photos were taken on Loch Rannoch.  One day the water was wild and choppy, the next it was calm and reflective.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ma Wee Hens Bunting Quilt

At last I have finished the quilt I started piecing at the Edinburgh Stitch Gathering.  Our workshop teacher was Fiona who blogs over at Poppy Makes and the pattern and technique she shared with us can be seen in her own work called the Sweetwater Quilt, if you click on this link you will see just how beautiful her quilt is.  Her quilt and pattern have even been published in Creative Quilting magazine!  Now mine is nowhere near as pretty as Fiona's but it does make me smile to look at it.
I think two of my hens seem pretty happy to look at it too!  I got a bundle of chicken fabric odds and ends in an ebay auction ages ago, when I first started keeping a few backyard hens, and now at last I had a use for them.  (I keep a blog/diary about my hens too, if you are interested)

It is lap quilt size and made out of 2.5" strips of chicken themed fabrics and some solid grey fabric.  I quilted 1cm away from each triangle edge and am thinking about doing some hand quilting in the grey spaces, probably stitching the outlines of chickens!
The back - don't look too closely as I had to do a bit of patching due to
not buying quite enough backing fabric - oops
It is now Autumn here which means Scotland is becoming even more beautiful.  But the one thing that doesn't become more beautiful in Autumn are hens.  Every Autumn hens loose their feathers and grow new ones.  This moulting process makes them appear very scraggy and pitiful and it is certainly not a good time for posing in front of quilts for the world to see!

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