Sunday, 15 February 2015

Let the sunshine in

It isn't actually sunny out, as we are going through a typical English grey and rainy spell, but the light levels inside our house have been considerably lifted with the installation of new sheer roller blinds in the front rooms.  For six months we've been living in partial gloom because all the front windows face onto a busy main road and people and buses are passing by within a few feet of our house.  Being privacy-loving individuals, we've had no choice but to keep our grubby inherited dark roller blinds closed at all times, casting the lounge, dining room, and front bedrooms into shadow 24/7.  Last month we scrimped and saved to put aside the funds to buy six sheer blinds in an lacy pattern that reference the older style of the house, and yesterday we put them up.  They let the light in, and give a partial view of the street, but people outside can't see in during the day time.  Yay!  It makes such a difference to the dining room, even in this gloomy weather. The room seems twice as big, and is much more inviting to go and sit in.

One day when we have the funds, we will replace the grubby old roller blinds with nice Roman Blinds in fabrics to echo the room decor.

After cleaning the house all up last weekend, and putting all the leaves into the dining table etc., I was let down at the last minute by the lace group which was disappointing.  The Council found a new venue for the last class, so the teacher called me a few hours ahead to tell me of the change. At least we ended up with a tidy house :)  So the course is over now, but there is talk of continuing to meet informally as a lace group so I said I would be interested in that.

In the meantime I finished my lace circle and turned it into a card even though I am only keeping it as a sample. I had my first try at joining lace to itself, I didn't do a good job and the join is quite visible, but I learned a lot by trying it so I think I can do a better job next time.  This is worked in 50-wt sewing thread.

The last lesson for the course was to try Bedfordshire-style plaited lace.  I worked two samples from the Pamela Nottingham book 'Plaited Lace No 1' and 'No 2', I just ran them together on the same pillow to avoid re-winding bobbins.  The strange place where some threads are stranded across is where the second sample starts.  Unfortunately the thread I chose, a No 80 crochet cotton, is too tightly twisted to lie flat for this lace.  I've since ordered a few reels of more suitable thread and when they get here I am going to keep working through the Pamela Nottingham book to teach myself. I didn't really enjoy the plaited lace, so I'm going to go back to Torchon and work through that chapter.

On the knitting front, I was sorting out my collection of ripped-out patterns to file them, and came across a few things that were tempting. I succumbed to a pattern from Let's Knit magazine for a Capelet, which normally I wouldn't be seen dead in but it just looked so warm for wearing around our cold house.  I'm knitting it in some Rowan Kid Classic from my stash, stranded with one strand of Forsell Shamal (a machine knitting coned wool blend) and I'm really pleased with the lofty lightweight fabric I'm getting.

I finished the first sleeve for my Cabled Cardigan, and I've finished one side of the neckline for my Aran Sampler Sweater.  I also did a bunch of tension samples on my Brother 260 chunky knitting machine in preparation for machine knitting the back and sleeves for the Aran jumper. Since they are now just going to be plain stockinette, there's no reason to slog through them by hand. With this discontinued Jaeger Sport wool, Tension 4 on the machine gave me the required 18 st x 24 rows, so I should be able to just follow the hand knitting pattern as there is no internal shaping.  I will probably knit the welts by hand because my ribber sponge bar is shot, and also to make them match the front welt.

I tried on the pin-fitted tissue bodice of my Mannequin Cover and it seemed to fit, so I laid out the pieces on some cotton gabardine fabric, and chalked additional seam allowance around each of them (the Craftsy video recommends increasing the seam allowances to one inch), then cut them out.  Now I just need to add the markings and symbols and then I can baste it together for a first fitting. I might do that today.

You can see I have turned my sewing machine desk sideways on to the window now, and I've set up the two folding tables in front as a work area.  It seems a better use of the space than when the desk was facing the window.  If I ever actually machine quilt something larger, I will need to rig 'dams' along the lefthand and far edge of the work area to prevent the quilt falling off, but I think that day is far off at the moment.

Did you do anything for Valentine's Day?  We didn't do much apart from putting the blinds up, but we did have a nice bottle of chilled Prosecco in the evening which was a treat.

I'm still ploughing through my vintage linen collection, I've ironed most of the small stuff so just have about 25 small table cloths left to get through.  I have a number of fragments of lace that I found in bargain bins, edgings that were cut off from decayed cloths, or unfinished lengths of lace.  I've left them until last but I would like to find things to do with them.  I might sew some onto the ends of hand towels, and make a valance for my bed edged in lace, and maybe sew some along the bottom of my new sheer blind in my bedroom. I'm increasingly feeling like I would like to get back into sewing, it's mainly the unheated floor in my cold sewing room that's discouraging me so hopefully in the spring you will start to see more sewn items on the blog.


Josie said...

Wow, you have been busy and I especially love the lace!

Daisy said...

Love the blinds - what a difference they make! Ah, and nice to hear that someone else is getting back into sewing - it's 20 years since I did very much!

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