The NEC show was a combination of four shows: Sewing for Pleasure, Fashion and Embroidery, Hobbycrafts, and Cake International. I wouldn't have gone for any single show but was tempted into attendance by the combination of all four for the price of one. It made a massive show continuing through four or five halls all joined together in an L-shape. I quite enjoyed the sewing show, which had plenty of quilting stalls, several acrylic yarn stands, fabric stalls catering to dressmakers, patterns, haberdashery etc. There was a transitional area of cross-stitch and other needlecrafts before phasing into the hardcore embroidery and modern textile art which is of less interest to me. There were many interesting exhibitions, including an impressive giant knitted cardigan created in 2011 as a community project in honour of the 900th anniversary of the town of Cardigan in Wales.
The Hobbycrafts area was a sort of catchall of several hobbies: beading, jewellery making, six dollshouse stands, lots of scrapbooking and rubberstamping, diecutting, decoupage etc. I was rather taken with a stand which specialised in attractive carved stamps you could dip in fabric paint and stamp patterns with onto teatowels and tablecloths - but the kits were really expensive: £30 to make a teatowel? Cake International was just a bit strange but was absolutely mobbed, a sign of how popular baking is now in the UK I guess. Loads of stalls selling elaborate tools, systems and ingredients for decorating, and a large exhibition area. The emphasis seemed to be on sculpting out of edible ingredients, which I am sure represents all sorts of challenges. But to me about 80% of the 'sculptures' were just really unattractive as sculptures and very few of them looked like they would be inviting to eat - but perhaps that's not the point. Garish colours, some really bizarre subject choices (like giant wrinkly heads, and weird hideous monsters) and very little actual 'cake' in evidence. Perhaps I was just feeling grumpy because I can't eat any of it anyway on my low-sugar diet. Interesting to have a peep into another hobby though.
I didn't actually buy very much but I enjoyed looking. I got a quilt panel to go with a quilting book that I bought in Tokyo. I bought a lovely art glass pendant. And I bought a bobbin lace book as a gift for a friend.
There and back I was knitting some more on the Fair isle socks. This is actually the second go, I ripped back about three inches because I wasn't happy with how unsightly the 'jog' between rows was looking. The sock is essentially a succession of one-row stripes, so the two usual tricks of slipping the first stitch in the previous colour, or knitting into the stitch below, really aren't helping much. I'm trying hard but I still have a very visible join line which doesn't look a whole lot better (not visible in this picture).
Ripping out seems to be the theme this week. I broke off all three yarn balls and wet blocked my leaf yoke jumper. As I had feared, it was enormous and the armholes falling about three inches lower than they should.
So I've ripped all that out and started over again in the next size down. Due to the construction of the yoke, I couldn't just rip back a little, it had to be a clean start. According to the measurements on the pattern, the original size should have fit me. I checked my gauge and I'm actually getting a tighter gauge than the pattern so that wasn't it. The next size down should be around seven inches smaller at my gauge so hopefully that will do the trick. I think next time, once I get the lace yoke re-knit, I will wet block it right away before I go any further.
I haven't had the energy to do much dollshousing this week, but I did tidy up a roombox last weekend. This is a room I constructed on a weekend course with Mulvaney and Rogers a few years back. I've basically sorted out the furniture and stuck it in place with tacky wax, decorated the desk with appropriate paperwork and ornaments, and hung a Lucy Askew mirror that I ordered after seeing her stall at the Tower of London show.
I finished the bobbin lace hexagon which is sample seven from the Bucks Point book. I did go wrong a few times trying to turn the corner as I worked in a circle, so it's not perfect. I am now contemplating trying to hide 34 thread ends and wondering if it is worth the trouble when it's just a sample.
I also did some sewing this week. Last weekend I picked up a couple of quilting magazines in a charity shop and spotted this pattern called 'Fujita Maze' by Susan Guzman, in a March/April 2013 issue of McCall's Quilting. I thought it might be a good choice to use with the William Morris layer cake and jelly roll I bought at Duxford last year, because the block is designed to work with directional patterned fabric
To me, the gold maze paths looked too dominating in the first block, so I did math again (double yuk) to reduce the maze paths from 1 3/4" wide to 1 1/2" wide - resulting in the lower block in the photo. I think this is an improvement, but to me the maze paths are still too dominating. I want to see the lovely William Morris fabric, and I don't like how the maze paths are turning it into an 'orange quilt'. I spent some time at the show yesterday looking at all the fabric on the Doughty's stand, wondering if another colour would look better instead, but I couldn't decide. I might downsize the stripe a third time to 1 1/4" or maybe even 1" wide to see if that lets the background fabric speak more. I chose the gold fabric because it is a common colour across most of the fabric range but perhaps I should try again.
I thought you might enjoy this picture. On the way back from Duxford a couple of weeks ago, we got stuck in an unexpected traffic jam on a small country road. It took us a while to slowly work our way up to the problem area, which is when we discovered that the problem was a herd of sheep being escorted along the road from their field back to a farm about a quarter mile along. The escorts were just a couple of men on foot, another man in a truck, and a dog which only seemed to be half-trained. The sheep weren't being very cooperative, one of them was literally being dragged along the verge because it just wasn't budging. A good part of the main herd (pack? swarm?) spotted another gateway on the right and all ran through it into a field they weren't supposed to be in, resulting in even more delay until they could be extricated. Meanwhile the dog slipped its lead and ran into the road while the owner (the one dragging the sheep) yelled at it. It was quite the most entertaining traffic jam I've ever been in.