Saturday, 16 May 2015

Fallen off the wagon and under the wheels

I've been so good about not buying craft stash for such a long time, largely by avoiding temptation through not attending my former round of craft shows like Miniatura or the Knitting and Stitching show. But this week I fell off the wagon with a vengeance, attending not one but three craft shows.  Oops.

The first one, the Makit Lacemaking, Quilting and Needlecraft fair in Peterborough last weekend, I could justify because it was fairly local, and had a large focus on lacemaking - so providing access to supplies that aren't readily available elsewhere. I had a pleasant visit with a fellow bobbin lace beginner. The fair was a good size, sort of medium, well worth going to but not so big that it was exhausting.  There were probably at least a dozen stands relating to lacemaking, including several bobbin makers and stands selling supplies, pillows, patterns etc.  I was looking for a couple of reels of thinner thread than I have been using so far, which I bought. I also bought 20 unfinished wooden bobbins, the cheapest way to buy them, then when I got home I stained and varnished them myself.  I got some beads and wire for spangling the bobbins, and I also found a secondhand copy of Ros Snowden's Miniature Bobbin Lace which is all patterns for dollshouses like doilies and tablecloths.  Technically I know I can do the stitches, the tremendous challenge is that they are all in incredibly fine thread, much finer than anything I've done so far.  I'm going to have a go, and I've ordered some Madeira Cotona 80 thread for it.

The second fair, the I-Knit Fandango yarn fair, was an impulse ticket buy some months ago when it was first announced, prompted by happy memories of the previous I-Knit Weekenders which had included speakers, workshops, fashion shows, live music etc.  However, it later emerged that the Fandango was only going to be a yarn market, with no other events, which was a disappointment.

I was considering not going to the Fandango at all, despite having a ticket, but my willpower drained away when I regarded the temptingly nearby London Kensington Dollshouse Festival on the same day, one of the best dollshouse fairs in the world.  I hadn't been to KDF for a few years now, and was feeling increasingly out of touch with the miniatures hobby. So I ended up going to both.

KDF was great, even when trying not to spend money. I used to get a bit bored with it because it was mostly the same traders, who were always in the same spots.  This year they rearranged everybody, which made it feel much fresher.  I was also surprised at how many new traders there were, including some younger artisans crafting upmarket expensive dollshouses.  It suggests the hobby is picking up again now that the economy is improving. There was a fantastic display of items in the lobby which had been entered in the new competition for makers, 'Perfection in Miniature Awards' (PIMA), with the winner being a working scale replica of a Swiss Army knife complete with multiple tools. Some lovely items in that display case.

I saw lots of things that I would have bought if I had more money, and lots of things that I couldn't afford in any case but were still lovely to look at.  But my purchases were another house teapot from Sally Meekin to add to my collection of them, a kit to make a decorated blanket box from Art of (who also threw in a free gift of some mini clock faces), a cast metal dollshouse from Phoenix, and three non-working resin clocks from Hall's Miniature Clocks.
The Phoenix house has two floors inside, a staircase, and a few pieces of cast-in-place furniture, so lots to paint up.  Phoenix have definitely upped their game: they specialise in cast metal items and it used to be all jumbled anonymously in stapled bags with minimal labelling, with a fair bit of sprue and flash making it even harder to see what the item was supposed to be.  This time they had a good sized table with most things assembled, cleaned up and already primed, unbagged and in trays, making it much easier to shop their range.

Off to Fandango then, where I ate my lunch with Maurice who repairs knitting machines, so we had a chat about my ribber problems and he gave me some advice on calibration.  I strolled around the not-huge marketplace, which was almost entirely indy dyers and small yarn companies like Blacker.  I wasn't especially tempted until I came across a sock pattern inspired by the Outlander series called Lady of Lallybroch by JavaPurl Designs. Once I bought that, then I had to buy a couple of Jamie-inspired buttons for the sock's cuffs, and a skein of sock yarn from SparkleDuck, Galaxy in the Autumn Leaves colourway (75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, 5% stellina, bottom in picture).  And while I was at Sparkleduck I couldn't resist a skein of Pebble (85% superwash BFL, 15% Donegal nep) with an intriguing dark tuft. Both very pretty.

So excuse me while I go sell a few more premium bonds to pay for all the above. But it felt nice to pretend to have money again, just for a day  :)


This week I finished an Owl toy which was a free gift with Let's Knit magazine a while back. I stalled on it when I ran out of dark pink for the wings, but decided to just finish it up with light pink wings instead.

I've been machine knitting a marled cotton t-shirt, which has a ribbed hem and a v-neck.  The ribber didn't want to play at all, which is why I was talking to Maurice about it today.  I got it sort of working in the end, but it's not right. The t-shirt is plain but good for practice on shaping, neckline finishing etc. I've done the front and back so far.

I've been sewing up the pink cabled cardigan that I knit a while ago. For some reason I've been really procrastinating on this, usually I like sewing up.  I sewed on the neck trim around the back neck last night, tried it on and realised it was gaping. So had to unpick what I had done (always harder) and remove some of the neck trim, and re-graft it.  So many ends to darn in...

I've started a new commuter knitting project, a completely pointless handbag designed by Clare Scope-Farrell for the July 2012 issue of Simply Knitting. I don't even carry a handbag but there is something strangely appealing about the vintage impracticality of the design. Perhaps I shall use it for knitting accessories.

On the sewing front, I'm back on the UFO list and have dug out the Stack and Whack Sara's Stars quilt that I was completing when we were in the rental house a year ago.  At the time, I wasn't sure about the blue background colour but now I like it.  I've been shopping my stash to see if I have a border fabric I can use.  I tried the dark red but I don't think it has enough contrast. I'm considering the blue border at the moment - what do you think? The quilt is pretty wild so I think it needs a more solid border to calm it down and set it off.

I finally finished the Rowan denim yarn messenger bag. It's come out fairly well, I decorated it with some Cath Kidston buttons from my stash.  It's stiffened with fusible fleece so holds its shape, and lined with quilting cotton. The denim yarn is attractively faded and soft after its trip through the washing machine.

On the bobbin lace front, I've started a longer strip of the Pricking 6 lace that I did the sample of . I'm making it long enough that I could use it to trim an antimacassar perhaps, and it's going fairly well. Having done the sample, I'm familiar with the pattern now so I can catch myself if I start going wrong. I'm enjoying it.

Hope you've had a crafty week also!


swooze said...

Pretty bag. I'm sitting here resisting the urge to go shopping. I'm trying to wait until I get word on the job. I should hear Tuesday.

Daisy said...

I think the blue border!

I enjoyed Iknit Fandango, but my visit was quite short and sweet as I wasn't feeling great. I was very tempted by the yarn on the Sparkleduck and Easyknits stands, but struggled to see some of it was it was quite crowded. In the end I indulged in some Wollmeise and the Yokes book!

Mairead Hardy said...

Definitely a blue border for the quilt! It will pull everything together perfectly!

I am so pleased your denim bag worked out so well - looks like a useful size and shape.

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