Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oh ... You came here to see knitting?

I sat down to blog today and had a slightly guiltily thought that this purports to be a knitting blog. Oh I know over the years there has been other things, family, cat, dying, weaving, spinning, books, bookbinding, spinning, fountain pens gardening, and a whole lot of other stuff I can't remember right now. But mostly the blog contains knitting - and that was the intent. So when I settled down to blog today, and reviewed the images I made to blog with - there was a slightly guilty moment when I saw not a lot of knitting.
So up first knitting, socks all finished and read for little cub. These are Vintage Purls You turn - knit in VP Mrs Wemberly, a soft orange yarn. I knit a size 9", still a tad big for little cub ... but not for long, they grow fast those cubs. Love the sock, love the yarn, love the colour and especially love the twisted stitch diamonds running up the instep.
Love them !
Finishing these means that there is not much on the needles, I've got a shawl started, Iceland poppy by Evelyn Clarke, and I am trying to knit a cardigan in Veranda Yarns Light fingering blue faced Leicester yarn. I say trying as I just can't settle on a pattern, I started Slanted Sleeven, but my gauge was way way different, and the gap between knowing what I was doing size wise and making it up was too big. Seems I am not in the mood for process knitting right now - I want product.
I didn't know I wanted product until a local knitter shared a cardigan she had just finished, in sock yarn, so so pretty with lace worked across the back, from shoulder to shoulder. I wanted one of my own ....I really did. So I have frogged my Sleeven, and have been trolling the patterns in ravelry, looking for something pretty knit in fine fingering. So far my favorite options are Criollo, by Justyna Lorkowska, Starling by Cecily Glowik McDonald, or Joci by Joj Locatlli. Right now I am swatching whilst I decide, feel free to comment, I'm looking for something slightly cropped that will be pretty, to be knit in light fingering in a dusty blue red.
Meanwhile I have been playing with sparkly things, sequins and beads. After discovering not all embroidery frames were universally useful, I ordered (uhmm) three new frames. I'm still slightly surprised at ordering three, but there you go, three. First one was from Lacis - a "professional Tambour frame" with risers, 10"x18". Well they call it professional but most of the working tambour people I have seen photos of use a much larger frame. It was surprisingly affordable, I ordered the frame and the risers, which I think of as feet.
I've not seen much online about this frame ... so wasn't quite sure what to expect. I have to say that I am impressed, as it Bear. The frame is incredibly simple, and low tech (note the rubber bands and clamps - all part of the kit), and surprisingly effective. If anyone was setting out to provide a class set of embroidery frames for a workshop at low cost or looking to move beyond a hoop this is perfectly workable and affordable solution.
The frame itself compromises two pairs of hardwood struts, two small clamps, and two bolt/washer/wingnuts assemblies. The kit comes with tape that you cut and staple into the frame. You assemble a shorter strut to a longer strut, then affix your embroidery fabric to the tape. I remembered when stitching the last side that herringbone was the recommended stitch. Then you stretch the frame out to pull the fabric taut, and use the clamps to secure the struts. I used a small woodworkers square to keep my frame square. By loosening and adjusting the frame and clamps one can get a surprising amount of tension in the fabric.
The risers are the most ingenious part, four short simple legs each with a notch, and four wide rubber bands. That is all and when assembled as per the diagram the result is a sturdy frame supported 5" above the table - brilliant ! I imagine I will replace the rubber bands with more durable elastic. Even more brilliant when I discovered how easy it was to remove the risers and flip the frame is I could work on either side of the fabric easily. This is a seriously cool solution.
All so I can continue to play with tambour embroidery. I felt like I needed a bigger space to work on than my 8.5 inch hoop allowed. Because tambour work uses beads and sequins it is difficult to reposition the hoop over an adjacent section of fabric without damaging the work already completed.
So here I am all set up to go, a sampler of sorts. Except a sampler is intended to be a reference work, demonstrating ones proficiency - and this is more like a practice piece. Oh I love the idea of this being a sampler - I just know I'm not proficient enough yet. So I am thinking of this as a demonstration of what I know know, a learning piece. When I teach bookbinding I tell my class not to expect perfection - this is a learning book. My learning work has a combination of circles and boxes all ready for me to experiment and fill each with a different technique.
So here I am started, some beadwork lines, some sequin lines, some sequins sewn in a zig zag, some beads sewn on in sets of two and three. Sequins attached using a vermicilli stitch pattern, and some sequins sewn on in lines all facing the same direction. That I particularly enjoyed, discovering the wee trick that makes it possible to stitch sequins in parallel rows all aligned in the same direction without stopping and starting the thread for each line anew.
There are mistakes aplenty, gaps where beads and sequins should be but aren't, places where beads are too close together and so pop up above other beads, and places where sequins are sewn on two at once instead of singly. But it's all good - this is after all my learning sampler.
And yes - I did mention that I and ordered more than one frame - the first was this one from Lacis, the second was from Chinexlady on Ebay, a traditional slate frame, 24x24". These come from ITA in the UK and are held in high regard. At the time of ordering I wasn't sure just how the Lacis frame adjusted and after discovering the shortcoming for tambour work of my inherited MIL's frame with its one inch adjustments - I decided to take the plunge and order real slate frame. This is coming from 'tother side of the world' so belatedly I decided to see if there was a closer supplier ... And found Christinas crafts in Australia - technically almost next door compared to the UK. They listed frames up to a 'tape length' of 22 inches, similar to the frame I had just ordered. I was still thinking os something large enough to hold a garment sized section of fabric, so enquiry if they had larger frames. End result I have a custom made slate frame with an 36x24" internal dimension coming as well. I may also have 20 yards of 3cm wide cotton tape coming so I can lace the sides taut with pins and tape like shown here. At that point I had a reality check and stepped away from Google ....
This week is the first week of our school holidays ... I am on leave, so there might be marmalade made (we have some citrus no one is eating), swimming (little cub has invited a friend) and lots of knitting, and tambouring (which spell check thinks is tambourine every time - so maybe there should be that as well). And I will get to see how Yoyo spends her days .....
Na Stella

Monday, September 23, 2013

Something is done, something nearly done ...something nearly started

Here again, there has been some knitting ... but mostly other things have distracted me again.
The beaded and sequined butterfly is done, and off the hoop. Off the hoop has to be the embroidery equivalent of off the needles when knitting. I followed the pictorial instructions in my Broderie d'art de lunéville book, first gently steaming the work from the back when in the hoop, That was a mistake of sorts, my sequins softened, and look less angular ... They are ok, but I guess the french instructions meant to steam with a low heat? Then I spread a thin layer of flexible glue over the back to secure everything. Once that was dry I emoved the butterfly from the hoop. A few people have asked what I will do with this - and I don't know, it was a process project, a learning project. The outcome is just that, evidence of my learning.
There was a weekend of learning projects at knit camp this year. Knit camp still ran, and we all brought our knitting .. but I was invited to teach bookmaking. Given the camp is a few hours from 'home' for everyone, and so the activity has to be portable - I decided to teach kitchen table bookbinding. That would be making books with craft tools and materials found around the home. We did lug up three small nipping presses - that is mine there in the corner of the photo. Otherwise we used wheat paste glue, pva, and heavy things to hold stuff flat. I am always amazed at how everyone has a unique and beautiful sense of colour and coordination - here are just a few of the covers from day one open and flat - waiting for their innards. I came home with a few half made books, everyone else went home with at least two finished books, not bad for one and half days, I also came home with a fantastic thank you gift - more about that next post.
I took my current sock to knit camp, vintage Purls Youturn, and nearly made it to the top of the leg on sock number two. I do love the twisted rib edge pattern - and the diamond insets. Love them.
But back to embroidery ... After the butterfly I decided I needed to work a sampler with the tambour hook, something like this. To do that meant moving to a larger frame. I am lucky in that I inherited many of my MIL's embroidery things, amongst them was a largish frame. Not quite a slate frame, but a stretcher of sorts, in lovely fine grained rimu wood.
So I spent a considerable amount of Sunday sewing calico into the frame, then organza onto the calico and tightening it all up. This isn't quite the right frame for this kind of work, I suspect it would be perfect for canvas or thicker linen .. and I have used it for that. I had to stitch and restitch the calico to the tapes trying to estimate how much it could be stretched. Unlike a slate frame the tensioning holes are positioned an inch appart so all adjustments happen in inches. I even Herringbone stitched the organza onto the calico ...before trimming the calico away.
I've done a wee bit of stitching on the frame ... but unfortunately it's not drum tight, the fabric flexes to much, moves with the needle rather than staying firm. No worry, I have a slate frame coming from the Uk so I guess I will be knitting until that arrives. I might have to follow the frame up with more sequins and beads .... I have a small stash of those things and see that stashing more could be fun ...I need to practice more to get my spacing and density right, so my beading is even, and regular. I can't do that with one or two strings of beads now can I?
Na Stella

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Hello? Anyone there?

I'm here, really I am, not blogging as much as I should ... Life has been getting in the way. Always seems to in winter, late winter, when the days promise warmer weather and more light, and yes they are warmer and longer, but some-how that means more stuff to do that isn't knitting or blogging. Anyway, today is a bit of a catch up post. I've finished a pair of socks (finally), finished a sock, and started something new + I have been developing skills or knowledge or something around tambour embroidery.

These are Ode to frogs and the pond socks, some I 'had' to knit after discovering them on Knowing that some one, Adrienne Fong, had designed a sock that acknowledged the true spirit of frogging -aka- ripping back, I had to honor that effort by knitting some. Turns out that in the full spirit of frogging the socks are slightly too big, my fault entirely, as the pattern came in two sizes and I mistakenly assumed my feet were Adrienne's large. By the time I discovered my mistake I was well pass the point of wanting to frog. I am, It turns out a fair weath frogged, willing to frog to fix mistakes that matter, mistakes in knitting, or in chart reading, or in size where it matters. Seems that for so is at least I am happy to knit and then find someone they fit. So these socks, have gone off to J .. .. With instructions to find someone they fit if they don't fit.

And here is the current sock-on-the-needles, a Vintage Purls design, You Turn, knit not in bright pink but in soft orange. And yes - although I said on the needles - there are no needles in this sock. I had one of those - grab in a hurry- moments. I leaned over my knitting chair, camera in one hand and snatched the sock from the knit basket to make a nice photo. Unbeknownst to me the circular needle was caught somehow in something and the sock just slipped of the needle. Says something about how smooth and easy to knit on the new KnitPro carbon needles are. I'll rethread the stitches after I finish this post.
Meanwhile I am still plugging away athe the unexplainable sparkly butterfly, and learning lots. Mostly I am improving at placing beads. My fingers are becoming more detrous at separating a bead from the others on the string, sliding it it snuggly next to the needle, wrapping the thread around the needle to lock the bead in place, rotating the tambour hook and completing the stitch. All on the other side of the fabric whereni cant see. You can see that sometimes my fingers fail me, and i get gaps between beads that unfortunately I only notice when I turn the work right side up. Reminds me of a sweet corn cob with a few kernals missing. I am also learning how to design for beads, that the spaces between areas need to allow for a single bead, or two beads. You might also notice that as I 'improve' I have been frogging, using the chain link stitch character of tambour work to my advantage to quickly remove sections I feel could be done better.
And this is the latest project, cause - you know - if I haven't strted something recently I get a bit fidgety. It is Icelandic poppy by Evelyn Clarke, in a iced mid blue silk merino by spinning a yarn. So far so good although I am only one repeat in.
More details next post ... Promise. For now I am off to thread those stitches back on the needle.
Na Stella