Sunday, 2 October 2011

In which I create a mutant bear

We have been having the most gorgeous Indian summer the last week, with temperatures up to 28 degrees and cloudless blue skies.  Having put away all my summer clothes under the bed, I've had to pull some of them back out so that I don't roast to death on my commute in and out of London.  I've had several nice lunch hours sitting out in the park (in the shade) and enjoying the lovely weather while I eat, then doing a bit of knitting.

Today, the 2nd of October, we took advantage of the Radio Times free voucher for entry into a National Trust property, and drove over to Osterley Park.  This is a lovely brick mansion decorated by Robert Adam in the late 18thC with gorgeous ceilings and walls.  Neither of us had been since the early 90s and it seemed a lot better than we remembered.  There is more of the house open now, and they've turned the stable block into the obligatory cafe and gift shop, so I had a cream tea in between visiting the house and the garden.  After walking around some of the garden, we had a bit of a nap on a shady bit of lawn in the park.  Incredible to believe that it is October. I think it is going to be very hard to pack sensibly for New England where it could be quite a lot colder, or even snow, when at the moment I am sitting here in shorts and a sleeveless top. The weather is supposed to turn cooler though on Tuesday.

Things have calmed down at work to a certain extent, as I met my deadline for producing the latest newsletter and it's off at the printers at the moment.  So I've been able to leave on time and consequently get a bit more done at home.

I finished quilting my Vintage Lone Star doublesided quilt, which I was quilting with a tulip pantograph.  I'm rather pleased with the effect of all the swirling lines behind the geometry of the lone star.  Another seam came apart but luckily I saw it in time and was able to pin it down before I quilted over it.  This lone star was a rescued top which was very wonky and didn't lie flat originally, plus it was pieced into some horrible pink sheeting.  I unpicked it and pieced it into a new blue background, trying to get it to lay a bit flatter, and added the border.  It obviously still wasn't quite flat as I ended up with some fullness about midway along the side borders which I had to ease in / quilt in, so there are some pleats and gathers there.  Also the final edge was rather lopsided so the quilt obviously wasn't quite square despite my efforts.  But it lies flat now, and I'm pleased that the reverse side came out fairly well centred.  The reverse is a set of vintage lone star blocks that were originally attached to a backing that was literally falling apart.  I just sort of pulled the stars away from the shredding fabric, and re-appliqued them onto blue squares before setting them in a zigzag pattern.  Originally this was going to be another quilt, but then I realised it would make the perfect backing for the big lone star.

In two weeks I have to take the quilt frame down in preparation for my in-laws coming to visit, because I don't think it's fair to expect them to live around a 12-foot quilt frame in the living room.  I have two tops left to quilt, one is a very complicated and very large blue & white top so I definitely don't have time to do that.  The other is a Piece o' Cake applique vines quilt which is already partially quilted with stitch in the ditch lines.  I'm tempted to put that one on the frame and just do as much as I can over the next two weeks.  Because once the frame is put away, it could be several months or even a year before it comes out again and I will have forgotten how to use it and will have to build up my expertise all over again.

On the knitting front, I also had a finish:  my Drop Stitch Shawl in Knitwitches 'Seriously Gorgeous Swiss Silk with Kid Mohair'.  I haven't blocked it yet, so it will be wider once it's blocked.  It feels so gorgeously ethereal and yet surprisingly warm.  I'm a bit worried about it felting or matting if I wet block it, so I may just pin it out and then spray it with water and hope that will be enough.

I also started something new this week, because on impulse I dropped into the I-Knit knitting group on Thursday night.  Since I had finished the shawl earlier in the day, I looked through various pattern books and magazines and eventually chose some fair isle wristwarmers, project number one in the latest Debbie Bliss magazine, which I am knitting in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  Rather oddly, the pattern wants you to knit these flat and have a really ugly seam that doesn't even match up the pattern.  I have adjusted the stitch count to knit them in the round, which seems much more sensible and eliminates purling.  I quite enjoy fair isle but I may restrain myself and save this project to take to New England for when I feel like a change from the lace shawl.

I knit a bit more on my Berroco lace tunic and am up to the point where I need to decrease for the armholes.  I like the colourshaded effect on this, achieved by knitting with two strands of mercerised cotton and changing one strand at a time. Once again I have failed to complete this summer top in time for summer, having started it last summer.  Must try harder.

And just in case you are thinking that my craft projects usually turn out ok, have a gander at this mutant bear slash dog which I tried to make from a free kit with a dollshouse magazine.  This is the first time I have tried to craft a mini animal out of pipecleaner, and it did not go well.  It actually used to look much worse than this but I persevered.  At no time did it look anything like the picture, and it looked a lot more like some weird very inbred dog for quite a while.  His snout is still too long for a teddy bear, and his chest looks like he is wearing Spanx, and let's not even discuss his strange staring eyes which seem to be located inside his ears...


swooze said...

I like your drop stitch shawl. Your bear isn't that bad.

Daisy said...

I think the bear looks rather sweet! It was very odd at lunchtimes last week - sunbathing in Regents Park, but sitting on fallen leaves. Weird.

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