Saturday, 8 August 2015

Productivity is up

I seem to have fought off most of the cold that was dragging me down last week, helped by having an extra day off in lieu so I only had to work two days this week. My first day was Thursday, which happened to be the day of the Tube strike in London.  Unlike previous strikes, no tubes were running whatsoever.  I managed to squeeze onto a bus going south, and changed at Trafalgar Square to get nearer to Victoria where I work, but it took 75 minutes to travel 3.2 miles as the traffic was horrendous.  So into work late, and my boss kindly sent me home at 4pm in the vain hope that I would make my normal train, which made it a short day.  I should have walked: it took 90 minutes getting back to St Pancras station. Luckily I could read to pass the time, and knit daisies once I got a seat.

Friday was also a short day because we had a trip out to Canary Wharf (east London) to see our new office building where we will be moving in November or early December.  The longer commute is going to suck but the actual building is a huge improvement over our current decrepit 1970s eyesore with flooding toilets and malfunctioning air conditioning.  Light and bright and great views over the canals and across the Thames to the O2 centre, and lots of shops around. And more importantly, lots of places to sit outside and knit on my lunch hour, something sorely lacking in the Victoria area.

So I've got a bit more done this week

First up was a finish on the quilted knitting bag which is my own design and started several years ago as part of a group project in my former quilting group. My theme was knitting so I included a self-portrait of me knitting with our former cat 'helping', sheep, and knitting-related items like tools, a sofa, teacup and teapot etc.  Most of the blocks were foundation-pieced, the sofa and self-portrait and the words 'knitting' are fusible applique. The blue faux-knitting fabric on the sides was a great find, and the bag is given its structure by a snap metal frame like a doctor's bag.  It's a fairly large bag, about 16" long by 8" wide, so will be good for holding larger projects. Inside is a zipped notions pocket topped by a measuring-tape ribbon. I'm fairly pleased with it although it hasn't come out as perfectly as I would have wished. I seem unable to shake from the back of my mind the conviction that the Craft Police will one day swoop down and inspect my output with a magnifying glass, naming and shaming every flaw. Ridiculous I know.

I managed to work my way through to a finish on the second knitted rabbit. I had to adapt the female bunny pattern as it had 'tights' knitted in a smaller gauge yarn so the boy bunny had to have a new tummy shaped from worsted-weight.  He also had to have feet in a different colour as I ran out of  grey yarn, and I had to design my own feet and legs as the girl bunny again had shoes and tights in a different gauge. Then I had to come up with a design for a raglan sweater for him, which came out fairly well, knit in Rowan 4-ply cotton stripes. So it all took a bit longer than knitting the girl bunny but I'm fairly pleased with how he's turned out. In retrospect I would use thinner yarn for his nose but I'm not so bothered by it that I would rip it out now.

After finishing the quilted bag, I thought I would reward myself by sewing a Minion pincushion.  This is from a free pattern by Lady Joyceley, which I think came through to my email from Pinterest or Hobbycraft, can't remember. The pattern is in two sizes, big and mini.  I decided to try the mini size, thinking it might make a nice pincushion for my second lace cushion.  I don't know if I printed it wrong but mine has come out VERY mini!  It is quite cute, very fiddly to make, and not much use as a pincushion, so it will now live in front of my PC monitor.

I finally broke down and ordered a yarn swift, after years of getting by with husband help, or the back of a chair.  I wanted to wind off six skeins of sock yarn to knit the Now in a Minute shawl by Brenda Dayne, which has six triangles of colour for knitting in a gradient yarn.  I have so much sock yarn that I was able to pull six skeins which I think will look nice together.  Ignoring the voice shouting in the back of my head ("BUT IF YOU USE PART OF EACH SKEIN, YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE ENOUGH FOR SOCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!") as I am not running a sock yarn museum, I easily wound off six cones using my new swift which worked really well (and unlike DH did not make any comments or get tired arms, although he is very patient - except for that time I wound a huge skein of lace yarn).

Today I am feeling very virtuous because I finally sat down in good light and with DH's magnification visor to secure all the broken sections of the Victorian beaded runner that I bought some months ago.  It took me three hours as the rows of beads had come loose in 30 or 40 places - mainly due to one type of bead (the ones nearest the pin head) which must have been metal as it is all corroded and rusty and had rotted the thread in many places.  I used a fine needle and silk applique thread to catch down a few beads in each loose place, so that there are no longer ominous rattlings from detaching beads when you handle the piece.  I was trying to think where to put it that it could be seen, and for now have hung it from the picture rail like a giant bell pull.  It could do with a clean really, but I don't dare get it wet with all the issues it has. It looks quite striking.

I also stopped procrastinating about sewing a valance for my bed - I had been putting it off for ages because it required shifting my very heavy mattress and enough time to get finished so I would have somewhere to sleep that night.  Several weeks ago I had adapted two former vintage crochet tablecloth edgings (which came to me sans cloth) by cutting out the corners and seaming them into two long straight bits.  I had a commercial valance which needed shortening all around by 1.5", then I seamed on the two strips of crochet on the left and right sides as trim.  At the foot of the bed, I sewed on a long wide strip of vintage crochet which was perhaps originally intended to be a curtain header or a mantle scarf but had been abandoned at about six feet long.  The overall effect is quite smart, a bit like a hotel, and certainly much better looking than seeing plastic storage boxes peeping out from underneath my Victorian metal bed.

TV knitting this week once I finished the second bunny was still the Gradient shawl, commuter knitting has been knitting the second set of 22 daisies (I think I've done about a dozen), and I've turned the final corner on my Torchon lace mat and am part way down the fourth side of the square. I also altered a pair of trousers to fit my slimmer self.

So it's been quite a crafty week really - the best kind of week to have, don't you think?


Mad about Craft said...

You have been busy!

swooze said...

Wow you have been busy! Love the knitting bag. Have you used it yet? I like the nice big open mouth and that it completely closes!

The bunnies are so adorable. The smaller gauge OB the girl just makes her look more dainty. So cute.

I love your next shawl from the sock yarn. Looking forward to seeing the progress on that.

I love restoring textiles. Good job on saving your beading. It looks great. I think if I washed it I would have to dry it out in the warmth of the son to prevent further corrosion of the metal beads. I know you know what is best for that beautiful piece. It looks great hanging on the wall.

Your bed skirt project turned out great. You are so clever using the different pieces that you did. You'll have to show it in service on your bed one day.

Have a great week.

Daisy said...

Glad you're feeling better!

Mairead Hardy said...

Good to hear you are on the mend - and you have had a busy week, but your commuting during the tube strike must have been very frustrating!

Your bunnies are delightful - as is the minion, shame it isn't big enough for a pin cushion, but it will keep you company while you're on the computer. ;-) The knitting bag is utterly gorgeous, you can tell what a lot of time and effort has gone into it. And owning a swift makes life much easier doesn't it? I couldn't be without mine now.

Sue said...

Just getting caught up on my blog reading. I had four of yours waiting for me! Not so much online over the summer. You sure have been busy! I love your knitting bag! You did a great job on it. All of your crafts look terrific Sharon and I love reading about all your travels and projects.

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