C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Knitting Weekend

This weekend was spent in the beautiful setting of the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset with Fiona Morris and 4 other students on the City & Guilds Hand Knit Textiles course. And what a brilliant weekend it was!

We started on Thursday evening and got to know each other over dinner before heading to our work room. Fiona then spent a couple of hours talking about how to put together design submissions for magazines and shared lots of examples of her designs and swatches. Inspiring stuff!

On Friday morning we gathered after breakfast and the exercise set for the morning was all about colour matching. This was perfect for me as my current module is all about colour and yarn wrapping. Fiona introduced us to a couple of websites Design Seeds and Colour Lovers, which offer inspiration and ideas for colour palettes. We were each asked to select an image and recreate the colour palette by mixing up gouache paints. Here are my finished stripes, I was quite pleased with the results although the dark brown / purple colour was the trickiest to achieve.

Colour matching

In the afternoon we all got on with our C&G coursework. For me this involved painting more stripes based on yarn wrappings. Module 4 is more design based than knitting so I was quite envious of those who were able to whip out their needles and work on samples. The good thing was though that one of the other ladies is a module ahead of me so I was able to look at what she had done and also see what was in store for module 5. It definitely gave me the kick I needed to crack on! All in all it was a productive day and it was nice to end it with a knit and a natter over a glass of wine in the evening.

On Saturday we looked at Fair Isle knitting and Fiona showed us lot’s of examples of fair isle swatches and explained how to choose contrasting colours that would work together. We also looked at examples of  Fair Isle ‘purl when you can’ which adds texture to the pattern. The technique is to purl instead of knit a stitch if the colour of the stitch about to be knit is the same as the one below.

Fair isle talk then turned to steeking. A couple of us had never steeked before and I have to admit the thought of taking a pair of scissors to my knitting filled me with horror! However, Fiona had the perfect little mug hug project for us to practice the technique. I neglected to pack my dpn’s but did have a long circular needle so was also able to learn the magic loop method of knitting in the round.

Magic loop

Below shows the crocheted edge that protects the stitches of the line to be cut. Then it was time to take a deep breath….

Crochet edge for steek

….snip, snip and voila – it’s flat!

Fair Isle tension

As someone who has always pulled the fair isle floats too tightly, the handy tip of pulling the stitches in between the floats down the needle before working the contrasting colour stitch worked wonders! It’s not perfect but I am happy 🙂

Sunday came around far too quickly, and whilst a couple of ladies carried on with their C&G work there were a few of us keen to learn the Mobius Strip cast on which used for making a figure of 8 scarf or cowl that knits out from the centre outwards. I really couldn’t get the hang of how to wrap the yarn at first, but finally got there!

Mobius cast on

Over the weekend I had worked a Ribbon lace swatch from one of Barbara Walkers books so before we went for lunch on Sunday we blocked it using a hand steamer. I so need to invest in one of those, it opened up the lace beautifully!

Lace blocking

Before hitting the road on Sunday Fiona was kind enough to help me with a pattern chart for a shawl that I have been stalling on for ages. I wasn’t sure how to split out the different sections to make it clear and she gave me some suggestions so I am hoping to get it finally written up this week.

All in all it was a really inspiring and motivating weekend at Ammerdown. Our group was lovely and it was so nice to spend some time with like minded people who are as mad about knitting as I am! I really do hope we can do it again next year.

knitting

A Marvellous Day at Ally Pally

A lovely day was had yesterday at the annual Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. The show is the largest textiles and craft event in the UK and as well as being a chance to stock up on ‘essential’ supplies, there are many exhibitions, workshops, fashion shows, demonstrations and lectures on offer.

On walking into the main entrance hall you see the ‘PicKnit in the Pergola’, an amazing display of hand knitted flowers, birds, butterflies and a pond! It is a project by the UK Hand Knitting Association and each wildlife item has been made and donated by volunteers. The Pergola is touring the country in order to raise awareness and funding for the Livability Home Design Appeal, a charity that provides support and opportunities for disabled people in the UK.

Picknit in the Pergola

I went through to the main exhibition area to the the knitted Textile Awards exhibition which showcases knitted work in 2 categories – graduate and open.

One of my favourite showcases was of mounted dogs heads, a playful take on taxidermy by Nicky Barfoot. Here is ‘Pickle’.

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And here is ‘Willoughby Brown’ by Heather Drage – a knitting shop owner from Salisbury.

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I also managed to catch one of the fashion shows and fell in love with this orange ladies cable coat by Patons. Isn’t it stunning!

Patons ladies cable coat

Moving on from the exhibitions to the stalls…and here is a selection of the days purchases…

Ally Pally purchases

Top left – Copperfield Yarns, hand dyed by Oliver Twists, silk and baby camel. My most extravagant purchase of the day but if you felt the softness you would totally understand

Middle left – Scrumptious 4 ply / sport superwash by Fyberspates. I had to buy this as I have a handbag and gloves in the same colour. This is going to be a matching scarf.

Right – a selection of buttons by Cool Crafting – just look at them, need I say anything more?!

Bottom – Rowan Creative Linen. A beautiful colour for Halloween

I also purchased a 10 ball bag of Rowan Pure wool, in a dusky pink shade. No idea what I will make from it yet though…

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And finally, a book – ‘A Handknit Romance’ by Jennie Atkinson. A gorgeous book full of vintage inspired knitting patterns. I can’t wait to have a proper look through this but what immediately struck me when browsing though it at the stand was the beautiful photography and presentation of this book. Each pattern is accompanied by a note about where the inspiration for the design came from. And I was lucky enough to have Jennie sign it for me too!

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Speaking of autographs, guess who else I met – none other than the textile queen Zhandra Rhodes! What a lovely way to end the day 🙂

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Blogging101

Shiny New Blogs on my Reader :)

Day 3 of Blogging101 was to get to grips with the Reader topics list and find some new and interesting blogging neighbours to follow. Having branched out of my usual ‘knitting’ or ‘crafting’ tag search I spent a large chunk of yesterday evening reading and following some brilliant blogs that I am really excited about. Here are just a few of them:

Young & Hungry – a great cooking blog with some fantastic recipes! I am not a brilliant cook and it’s something I really want to improve on. The blog tagline is ‘Delicious doesn’t have to be difficult’ – so that’s good news for me!

As a sideline, Mr A. and I went to the Garden Centre at the weekend and being rather late in the day we arrived at the end of a Chilli Festival. Our lateness may have caused us to miss the Mexican Pan-pipers but it turned out ok in the end as they were selling loads of chilli plants for just £2 each – bargain! So we got 3, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Scotch Bonnett’ and ‘Joes Long Cayenne’.

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And also some of this…

Chilli Beer

So after finding the Young & Hungry blog I feel super inspired to impress Mr. A with a surprise dinner. First up will be….Chilli Chicken! 🙂

Helen’s Journal – Helen’s photos are simply stunning. The latest post includes some soft image photo’s taken in New York and I love the abstractness (is that a word?) of them; the images appear as if they are made up of little balls of coloured light. I’m not explaining myself very well am I – probably best you go check them out here, you’ll see what I mean!  Some photos on the blog are also accompanied by a poem or a quote. I am looking forward to following Helen’s Journal and seeing some more beautiful pictures taken on her travels.

paris: small capital – Having spent an amazing weekend in Paris earlier in the year this blog totally captured my imagination. The author is Kim who moved to Paris in 2009 and through her blog explores the back streets of Paris and the places lesser known on the tourist trail. It is brilliantly written, very funny and full of interesting stories about Paris. I will be returning to this blog soon with a cup of tea!

White Elephant in the Room – this blog actually made me laugh out loud,  I love this post about wine tasting – brilliant! The author is someone who finds fun in the everyday things and I also love the fact that each post is individually illustrated with a white elephant to tie in with the post, very clever.

Today I have been filling up my reader with lots of  interesting new topics; there will never be another dull moment 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! x

Art

Quilts and Colour Exhibition

During our recent trip to Boston I visited the Quilts and Color exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was especially useful for me as it ties in very nicely with my current knitting course module which looks at the use of colour.

The exhibition showcases around 60 quilts from the collectors and artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and looks at both the craft of quilting and colour theories used in the design of the pieces.

The collection ranges from early 19th century to the 1940’s, a time when women’s environments were very labour intensive. The collector Gerald Roy quotes: “That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break —I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.”

The first quilt we saw was the Carpenters Wheel Quilt by Mrs. Miller made around 1890.

Carpenters Wheel Quilt

I found this combination of colours really interesting – the photo doesn’t really do it justice though as the orange was much brighter, but the complementary colors of dark red and green seemed to reign it in. What you also don’t get from the photo is the detail in the stitching, if you look really closely in the orange squares you can just about see the flower pattern.

This next piece is ‘The Star of Bethlehem’, there aren’t any details to say who it was made by other than it was made in new England in the 1920’s.

Quilt Star of Bethlehem

Here is a close up of the centre, the amount of work that must have gone in to produce something like this is incredible:

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

We spent ages in front of this next quilt ‘A Thousand Pyramids’ (1930), trying to work out of there was any pattern  or logic to the placement of the triangles or whether they had been placed randomly.

Thousand Pyramids quilt

We never reached a conclusion on that one!

Pamela Parmal the exhibition curator states:  Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.”

‘Touching Sunbursts’, made in Pennsylvania in 1854 was one of the few quilts on display that used white.

Touching Sunbursts quilt

Again, this was one when viewed close up you could see intricate stitching patterns in the white squares, details which get lost when viewed from afar. This is what made the pieces so interesting as on first glance you are drawn in by the colorful and bold overall pattern,  but when you get closer you can see the patterns on each individual piece of fabric as well as the stitches that piece it all together.

I didn’t make a note of the origins of this one unfortunately but I was totally captivated by it. It’s almost as if the dark pattern has been printed on top of the finished quilt.

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Here is a close up – just look at the number of different individual fabrics that were used to make it!

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Another of my favourites was this one – it reminded me of spinning records.

Quilt

Quilt 2

If you look in the red squares you can see the stitching patterns a bit clearer in this one.

Speaking of the collection Gerald Roy quotes “…can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.”

If only the family of Mrs. Ephraim Scott has known her ‘Sunburst Quilt’ (1856) would one day be on display – it was dubbed by them as the ‘ugly quilt’!

Sunburst quilt

This is one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time. Each quilt is so intricate and beautifully made it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the detail in each one. The amount of thought, work and love that went into each one is truly inspirational.

The Diamond Field Quilt

The Diamond Field (1860) – picture taken from https://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/quilts-and-color

Gardening, knitting

Hello Sunshine!

I’ve been a bit rubbish at blogging lately, but now I am back I would like to share some of the fun stuff I have been up to 🙂

Firstly, I finally finished module 3 of the C&G knitting course – hooray! Big lesson learnt there is to start writing things up as I go along and not leave it to the very end and having to decipher my notes. It took me twice as long to write the module up then it did to knit the samples! Anyway, that is all done and posted off and I am now on to module 4. I am quite excited about this one as it is all about Colour. Having a look through the activity contents this one is more heavily weighted towards design than knitting and the first activity is to gather a selection of inspirational images to reflect the theme of colour.

Whilst I am doing that I am also in the middle of knitting up a hat design inspired by a recent trip to Paris. Here’s a progress shot.

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I hadn’t intended to design another hat at first, the pattern I was working on kind of decided it for me. I was inspired to try a travelling stitch pattern as I had knit a couple of samples for module 3 and one of them was the ‘Tree of Life‘ from the afghan by Nicky Epstein.

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I like the way you can ‘draw’ with a travelling stitch, like Nicky has done with the tree branches so that is what I am exploring in my next design.

And what about Spring Haze? Well, I have resigned myself that my Spring Haze wrap is going to be a very long WIP, I have changed the design for the main part and it needs a lot of attention which I haven’t been able to give it lately. But I am still working on it, even if it is very slowly…

I am super excited about about is the return of summer – which starts officially next weekend when the clocks go forward! This weekend has been typical of the weather in England, woke up yesterday to glorious sunshine so my husband and I hot footed it to the garden centre for supplies for our yearly garden overhaul.

We got some lovely plants including this:

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It’s called a ‘Fritillaria Meleagris’ or ‘Snakes Head Fritillary’. I love the snakeskin pattern on the petals – so pretty!

We also got some of these:

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A ‘Senetti’ plant. The actual colour is more purple than this but my phone camera made it bright blue! This one is definitely going in my colour file 🙂

On the way back we stopped at the shop for BBQ supplies, our reward for a hard days work in the garden. But as you have probably guessed, on our way home the skys clouded over the heavens opened. Typical!

In other news I have been getting out and about over the past month, I had an amazing trip to Paris, visited the new Birmingham Library and caught the Hannah Hoch exhibition at Whitechapel last week, all of which I will write about soon.

I also have a trip planned for New York and Boston coming up too which I am sooo excited about. If anyone has any suggestions as to interesting places to visit please do let me know!

 

knitting

Fun with Double Decreases

I had some great news this week. I received the feedback for module 2 of the C&G course and everything was completed and passed – yay! I will post pics of my samples once they have been returned.

With a renewed motivation thanks to the C&G Ravelry Group I have been beavering away at module 3 and the end really is in sight now. I have discovered that the problem I have is that for every module so far I have knit up ALL the samples for the entire module in one go. Which then becomes a bit of a chore when it comes to writing them up as the notes are not easy to find and it’s hard to remember what you have done. It’s taken me ages to get them all written up and presented!

Someone on the group had a great tip for overcoming this which is to attach little tags to each sample detailing the yarn used, needle size, sample size, etc etc,. I will definitely be doing this in module 4.

Rather frustratingly I ended up having to re-knit all of my double decrease samples as I have no idea where I put my notes and I couldn’t decipher what method I had used just by looking at them. however, this turned out to be a really helpful exercise for me. Double decreases are used a lot in lace knitting, but because they are often teamed with a yarn over or 2 I have never really understood the difference of each method – surely 1 double decrease has the same effect as another right? Not so.

I sampled the 3 different double decrease methods that I am using in my Spring Haze wrap.

Sample 1 – K3tog 

Cast on an odd amount of stitches and PM one stitch before the centre stitch. On each knit row knit up to the marker and then insert the needle into the next 3 stitches and knit them all together.

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Here you can clearly see that by knitting the 3 stitches together it will create a ridge of stitches that slant to the right.

Sample 2 – Sl1-K2tog-Psso (or SK2P)

Cast on an odd amount of stitches and PM one stitch before the centre stitch. On each knit row knit up to the marker and then slip one stitch knitwise. Knit the next 2 sts together and then pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch (as if binding off).

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Here the stitches lie a little flatter than the K3tog and the left slants of each stitch are clearly defined.

Sample 3 – Sl2tog-k1-p2sso (or Raised Double Decrease)

Cast on an odd amount of stitches and PM one stitch before the centre stitch. On each knit row knit up to the marker and then slip 2 sts together knitwise. Knit the next st  and then pass the slipped stitch over the 2 skipped sts (as if binding off).

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The middle stitch is raised and perfectly centered with no slant.

Of course, there are other ways to do double decreases but I chose these 3 as they are the most common ones I have encountered.

Here are the first 2 samples worked in a lace pattern where you can clearly see the different effect of each method.

Double Decrease Example

Another really interesting single decrease technique I came across was the Bias Decrease. I stumbled across this on the Superneedles Knitting Adventures Blog and it’s such a pretty decrease I just had to try it out!

Bias Decrease

This effect is created by increasing a stitch at the beginning and end of every 2 rows and then making a double decrease to pull the edge stitches together at a slant. Instructions can be found here

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So pretty don’t you think?

knitting

I just love cats!

One of my favorite youtube videos is the one of Debbie, the internet dating crazy cat lady who just loves cats. It never fails to amuse me – if you haven’t seen it and you fancy a giggle you can check it out here

At the risk of sounding like said crazy cat lady I just had to share with you my latest knitting treats. As you know I am very slowly working my way through a lace intensive wrap called Spring Haze and my need for stitch markers has never been greater. I was perusing Etsy a few weeks ago as I wanted something a little more interesting than the standard plastic markers, as great a job as they do they are, well, just a bit dull.

And so I came across ‘Weeones Creations’. Oh my goodness, where to start! Jillian at Weeones makes the most incredible polymer clay stitch markers. Pretty much every animal you can think of has been miniaturized and hand sculpted into the cutest little character and the level of detail captured is amazing. I couldn’t resist and placed my order for some little cats. Because I love cats.

They arrived today!

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Aren’t they just the most adorable things you have ever seen?

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I think the one playing with the ball of yarn is my favorite. He looks like a teeny tiny version of my cat Mr.Pea.

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One even has a little mouse…

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And just look at the level of detail, they have little paw prints!

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Here they are in action

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I can’t wait to get cracking on with Spring Haze this evening 🙂

There is also a really interesting article on the Etsy blog where Jillian talks about quitting the day job to start her own business which you can read here. Inspiring stuff.

knitting

Introducing Rubin’s Vase & the Cafe Wall!

So I have FINALLY got round to publishing my first ever patterns on Ravelry – yay!!

They are two cushion covers inspired by popular optical illusions.

First up we have ‘Rubins Vase‘ – the illusion of 2 faces or a vase, depending on which way you look at it.

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And secondly ‘Cafe Wall‘ – the illusion in which straight lines appear to be bent!

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These designs can be used together  to make up 1 cushion cover or the back of each can be knitted in stockinette to the measurements given.

Both designs came about when I was researching into designers as part of the C&G course. I chose to write my report on Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer of Woolly Thoughts as I was fascinated by their illusion knitting – a process whereby raised stitches are used to create hidden images when viewed at an angle. From there I started look at other well known optical illusions and that’s how these 2 designs came about 🙂