Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blah blah knitting blah blah cross stitch yada yada

Yes, here we are again, another week, another blog post filled with dubious achievements and time fillers, lol.

If you are interested in the dollshouse room saga, then see the previous post entitled Extra Post: unwrapping dollshouses.  I didn't want to inflict it on the general readership so gave it a separate post.

Cross stitch

Yes, cross stitch is a thing again and has taken over my desk area all week.  I did a massive re-organisation of my materials: inserting labels for all the threads into each plastic pocket (they are in two binder pages of plastic pockets), inserting a second taller card with a hole punched out for working threads and a bit of adhesive draft-proofing foam to park a needle in, threading a needle for every colour and parking it ready for use above each pocket, highlighting the grid lines on the charts for easy reference compared to the sewn grid on the canvas, crossing out the grid squares already completed etc.  At last I was ready to stitch (DH accused me of enjoying the organising part so much that I was putting off the stitching).

I'm pleased to find that it has all paid off.  The gridding took some time but it is SO much easier to stitch now for my counting-challenged brain. I can do it more visually which is what suits me, and it is quite satisfying to cross off a completed 10x10 grid square on the chart.  The needles are already threaded ready to grab the next colour, and I bought a 'fineliner' pencil-type highlighter which is much easier for colouring in the chart squares as I complete them. After a while, my back started to hurt and I was thinking "I need a stand". Then I was thinking: "Didn't I used to have a stand??" So I went down and had a dig around in my 'non-quilting materials' cupboard in the sewing room and sure enough found several bits of wood with screw holes and wing nuts attached to them.  After a bit of experimentation, I was able to put together a stand which holds my cross stitch frame hands-free so I can stitch with the two handed method, much faster and easier on my back. So I've put in a few hours of stitching this week - which is depressingly so little of the chart. This is going to be a long haul.

Bobbin lace

I have a finish!!!  I finally finished the Torchon Lace Mat and I'm really pleased with it. There are numerous issues that an expert could point out but none of them are structural. Mainly inconsistencies where I forgot to twist threads, or where my tension wasn't consistent. But considering I am mostly self-taught and only started earlier this year, I feel proud of it. It's about 6.5"/16cm square.

There was a bit of a heartstopping moment near the very end when I was doing the sewings that connect the fourth triangle to the beginning triangle.  I tugged on a knot to make sure it was firm, and the thread snapped in my hand. Only it didn't snap off AT the knot, it snapped BEFORE the knot. So now I had a 1/8th end waving free in the air and no way to splice it or do things over as I had already sewn in all the threads around it.

Luckily I had DH's magnification visor and some pointy tweezers, and I was able to pull the end out to about 1/4" long. I looked at it for a while, it was on the side of the fan at the outer corner of the mat. In the end what I did was to pull  some spare thread through the stitch at the side of the fan using the same fine crochet hook I was using to do the sewings, and then tie a reef knot on both sides of the lace stitch to hold the threads fast including the loose waving thread.  Then I took across those two ends, and the original third end, and did a replacement sewing with them on the other side.  It seems to have worked and I don't think that area is any more fragile than the other sewings.   I just hope I never need to wash the mat because I don't think I trust any of the sewings that far.

I'm now going to move on to learning Bucks Point lace, which is a finer and more complicated lace.  I've scanned some prickings out of the Pamela Nottingham book ready to make a start tomorrow at Bobbin Lace group.


As mentioned last week, I was reaching the end of the yarn on my Gradient Shawl so I stopped knitting edging rows and started casting off.  About halfway along this lengthy crescent shape I realised my yarn was getting low. After a lengthy game of yarn chicken, I lost with only a few inches of stitches left to cast off.

I searched out some navy sock yarn from stash which is a fair match and  cast off the remaining stitches in that.  Then I blocked it.  It was all looking very lopsided and I eventually realised that my top edging on the right side was much less stretchy than my top edging on the left side. I'm not really sure why, unless it is the cumulative effect of slipping the first stitch in the row and knitting the last stitch. I mean that the left side was stretching about another 15cm. So I had to scootch it up to try to balance the design while it was blocking. It's still not very even but I don't think it will be as obvious when I'm wearing it.

The other thing we did this week was to drive up to Spalding on Saturday to collect a £50 eBay bargain: this garden arbour which normally sells for £146. It was in good condition too, DH gave it a coat of the same brown wood preservative we used on the other two arches, and we put it back together today. It looks good and fits in with the circular theme I've got going on in the garden.

No sewing this week, but I did get DH to drive me to Poppy Patch quilting shop in Great Doddington for their Christmas in August evening.  If you signed up for a course in November or December on the night, you got £10 off. So I've signed up for a one-day class to sew a Christmas wallhanging. I can't even remember the last time I went on a quilting class - it may very well have been as far back as 2007, the last time I went over to a US quilting show.

And speaking of quilting shows, I'm starting to look into travelling to Japan in 2016 for the Yokohama Quilt Week. It's not until November so I'm hoping we will have more money by then, although it will depend what happens with my job relocation. Japan has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I'm not getting any younger, so I'm gathering information and researching what I want to see.  DH however isn't sure he wants to come, so this may be a solo trip.  There are several organised quilting holidays to Japan but most of them go to the bigger Tokyo festival in January. Also they are very expensive. I think I can duplicate a lot of their itineraries for much less, apart from a few that arrange bespoke classes for participants.  If you've been to Japan, I'd love to hear your tips!


Daisy said...

You're doing better than me - my cross stitch frame was quite big and on a stand, so got stored in the garage, where it went mouldy!

swooze said...

I've never thought about going to Japan. I think my dream international trip is Australia New Zealand. Your shall looks great. Your lace looks great. I'll have to read more about gridding in Crosstitch. I'm still hanging onto a few things myself hoping to stitch one day.

swooze said...

How is the kitty doing?

Sue said...

When I was doing cross stitch, I used the purple disappearing pens from quilting to draw out the shape I was filling. I think I will hold off joining that bandwagon for a while as it is such a slow craft! I have tons of supplies though! I love your shawl and your dollhouse tour!

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