Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rumplestilskin is my name

What a lucky fish I am - I got a surprise birthday present - a spinning wheel!! Now I wish I had paid more attention at Woolfest as I was mystified about how to use it (I still thought the wool went round the big wheel, duh!).

I went over to The Wool Clip in Caldbeck to buy some wool tops and when I got there I realised I had no clue just how much I needed and how indeed to make sheep into wool.  Serendipitously the lady I asked was a Spinning teacher not a spinning Teacher and she suggested a lesson may not be bad thing.

She was a very nice teacher (and there is something reassuring about a Spinning teacher with the name Woolcott, like Mr Bun the Baker) and with her expert help after a couple of hours I managed this:
My first 2 ply yarn
 which she (kindly) said was VERY ACCEPTABLE for a beginner.

So I made this yarn using 2 separately spun strands and then PLYING them together - ie 2 ply. Now don't be put off by the fact it veers alarmingly between finger thick and nanometre thin- this is a much prized effect that beginners produce with ease and expert spinners struggle to produce - I think she called the thick bits slub and she seemed quite happy about it. Or maybe she was just being nice.

So off home I trotted with my bag of Rolags (!) and spun some pretty fine yarn.
First spinning on my own wheel

Only when I tried plying it (whilst watching the Watchmen) I got all twisted up and made some dreadlocks. I have since watched a video of PLYING and realise I forgot some important things.


At this rate I will be making spider silk by Christmas. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Make do and Mend and Very Old Cotton

Old cotton
Aunty Maureen was a collector of useful things. Being another collector of useful things, it was fitting that when she died, I inherited her collection of useful fabrics, cotton, knitting pins, patterns and old magazines (see Corpuleen).

Woollies cotton

So I was especially pleased when the opportunity arose to use some of Maureen's old cotton on a 'make do and mend' project. Woollies perished not long after Maureen so these 7p cottons may well be collector's items.

Stitched hammock

Luckily I knew someone with a ripped hammock and I had some leftover curtain material (mentioned previously) of the exact size needed to make a giant patch. I also got the chance to try a new stitch on my super Janome memorycraft 4900QC (Maureen legacy too).

The end result was a bit bare so someone I know who is a good drawer and not of the furniture variety drew me a little bird and before I knew it I had PUT A BIRD ON IT.
Little bird with speech bubble

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Fat Banished Speedily: Corpuleen

Adverts from the Girl's Own Paper and Women's Magazine July 1922

Adverts from the Girl's Own Paper and Women's Magazine July 1922
Poor old Mrs Hartland, whose 'earthly self was rapidly assuming abnormal proportions' - I wonder what her secret was... 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Precious Parasol

Did I mention how tricky hand embroidery is? I was putting it off, but eventually I got started on the auspicious symbols which are featured to either side of the 4 gates of the mandala. The parasol is a symbol of protection ‘from the painful heat of suffering, desire, obstacles, illnesses and harmful forces’(1).

Just imagine how handy such a thing would be.

After a shaky start (I was using single stranded thread for the umbrella handle and it was looking a bit ropy but then I cottoned on to the three strand approach). Cottoned on. Get it? I am sure this is very basic stuff.

Anyway I copied the design from the book, but did it freehand. I have 3 more of these to do (plus 4 Victorious Banners) and suspect that making them look the same will be an arduous task. No wonder I got side-tracked this week, and abandoned embroidery in favour of my SECRET project. Which is a secret, so I can’t talk about it.

1. The handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols by Robert Beer ISBN I-932476-03-2 (a beautiful book that someone has splashed with tea. It wasn’t me.)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Put another Bird on it Maureen cushions

Last year I spent a lovely holiday making slipcovers for the Allerum using some cheap and cheerful Ikea leaf fabric. For the curtains I bought a roll of beautiful silvery blue linen fabric from curtainfabricsonline - it has an antiquey french feel and when it arrived on a long tube I was so excited I think I trembled.

The sofa came with giant cushions which were looking a bit grubby, so I covered one side with the curtain fabric leftovers. On the other side my first attempt was a pastel Mondrian effect intended to complement my other cushions. The end result was unpleasant so I scrapped them and started again with the tried and trusted method of putting birds on them (see last post).
My Great Aunt Maureen was a great hoarder and I inherited her fabric stash (as well as knitting pins and vintage patterns) when she died a couple of yrs ago. I used some of this fabric as the background for the bird cushions and scraps from previous projects (including the curtains) to make the trees and birds. This was my first attempt at machine embroidery and I really enjoyed the feeling of producing casual lines- like sketching on fabric. I prefer the Nuthatch to the Chaffinch because it is a bit less busy.

Every time I look at the cushions I think of Maureen.

Nuthatch on Silver Birch
Nuhatch applique and machine embroidery
Chaffinch and Willow
Chaffinch detail