Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Third Baby Jacket

Here's another baby cardy - a 'regular' one this time, as I selected the 3-6 month size.  After putting in loads of work on making a 0-3 months layette for a Chinese baby a few years ago - thinking an Oriental baby was bound to be nice and small, and her being big enough for 3+ months clothes at birth, I decided that I wouldn't be making tiny things for friends again.  I usually do something for when the little one is a few months old.

This one was a new pattern for me and I enjoyed it.  It was meant to be part worked in size 6/5mm needles and part in size 8/4mm, but I felt that the larger needles left the lacy part just too open, so I did the whole thing on 8s.  (Yes, I'm still using the old English sizes, partly as I have a bag of needles from my mum which are mostly in the old sizings).  As the little girl will be mixed race - half Philipino, half Serbian and therefore a little darker than average, I thought cream would be better than white and so got 2 50g balls of cream Sirdar Snuggly.

I found some lovely peach coloured buttons and decided to embroider a bullion rose design to match, as you can see in the drawing.  Multiple problems ensued.  For one, I'm still not confident with bullions, despite having experienced success on the wedding gift bellpull and a few previous projects, and so I delayed it, and procrastinated, and put it off.

Eventually, I realised I was actually getting stressed out by tiptoeing around it and just made myself get on with it.  The results were not good.  Not good at all.  For one, the thread was far too fine and I didn't have the right sort of colours in thicker types, so the knots didn't show up well at all, nor did they sit well. So, I abandoned the whole bullion idea and did a design in whatever suitable shades of pearl cotton #8 I could find.

I have almost a whole 50g ball of the yarn left, so I'm going to have a go at the matching hat.  Look out for that soon.

I've almost finished my black cardy now.  I've knit all the pieces and am working on the button band.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Saturday, 13 May 2017

It's time.

Time to what?  Don't worry, not time to stop stitching or blogging or anything like that.  It's time to make a few changes to what I'm stitching/making and for whom.

You see, for the majority of the time I've been doing a lot of needlecrafts, i.e. the last 15 years, almost every thing I made was for someone else.  I have a hardanger needlecase, an XS bookmark, and there are some pictures hanging up around our home and two scatter cushions here on the sofa I'm sitting on, but the vast majority of things - including all of the 'masterpiece' projects - I've made have gone elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong, there's not a single thing wrong with that.  In fact, it's a good thing.  Not only would I never had done those stretch projects in the first place without the impetus of giving them to someone else, but I would have been inundated with stitched bits and bobs and, of course, it's not good for a body to be entirely focused on themselves.  Not good at all!  However, having said that, there's a balance needed.

You're probably wondering what the pictures of worn out bags are, right?  Well, they're my things.  The things I've been using, whilst they were clearly shabby, worn out and, frankly, falling to bits.  My handbag is terrible too.  I recently bought one on eBay - a cheap Chinese made thing in horribly hard fake leather and without the inner pockets they advertised.  (No photo at the mo, but I will take one soon, as I intend to use the fixings for a new one.)  My knitting needle bag that you can see here could be as much as 70 years old as my mum said her mum bought it for her.  I'm assuming it was when she was quite young and living at home.  The colours are lovely, I like that about it, and the shape is pretty much perfect for needles, but the fabric is horrible and you can see what condition it's in!

I stood one day looking at my disgraceful manicure pouch (seen above) which an old friend gave me when I went to Taiwan the first time 20 years ago, having in mind the knitting needle bag with its side coming away from the zip and thought, "You spend hours on end making beautiful things for other people, whilst your own stuff is dropping to pieces.  Why on earth don't you start making things for yourself?!"

So, I decided I would.

Then I looked at my clothes.  That wasn't too pretty a sight either.  Not that all of them are falling apart, but the ones in the best condition are those that I can't wear anymore thanks to having gained weight.  I threw out a lot of the far too small stuff before we moved a year last February, but some more have 'fallen into disuse' since.

To be honest, I could have bought some new things, but when money was tightest and Sir needed clothes too, it was more important for him to look smart at work every day than me to do so at home, so I told him to get what he needed and I'd take care of myself later.  At the back of my mind too, was that I wanted to shape back up a bit.

Another clothes buying challenge is that I just plain don't like a lot of styles that are around.  You either have to deal with fabrics, colours or shapes you don't really like or try to compensate for insufficient fabric as so many dresses etc are less than modest these days.

"Enough!" thought I.  Time for a change.  A big change.

As you've probably guessed, I decided to make, not only accessories for myself, but also to knit and sew the clothes I really wanted in fabrics I loved.  I came to this idea from Lydia of Made My Wardrobe, who gave herself a year to replace all her clothes with ones she'd created herself - from first principles in her case, as she's a trained textile expert who could design and draft her own patterns.  (Thanks to Amanda of Amanda Jane Textiles who 'introduced' me to Lydia's project via her own blog.)  I thought, if Lydia could do that, why couldn't I?  I knew how to sew and knit a bit, so why not develop those abilities further and replace my clothes at the same time?

I haven't started on the bag making yet, although you can now understand including 'Start on bag making tasks' in the list for the month, but I am on with my knitting work as you've also seen.  I've started with things that I can use straight away and am focusing on tops until my sizing is more stable.  I'm currently working on knitting the 4th of the 5 large pieces needed for a replacement for the very shabby, thinning at the elbows, has a hole in the pocket front and is seriously bobbly old cardigan I've worn to death over the past seven winters and, of course, am wearing right now!

I've also completed this double stocking stitch scarf in yarn that matches a pair of gloves my mum gave me and goes nicely with my black coat - which also rather needs replacing......

I've bought umpteen sewing and knitting patterns (you can see what I've bought as well as some inspiration on my Creating my Own Wardrobe pinterest board), and am already booked in to two sewing workshops to help me learn more and gain confidence.  If I like the format etc, I have my eye on a few more for the autumn, such as pattern adaptation and drafting.

So, whilst I'm going to be continuing to stitch and embroider - especially in the run up to the summer Show season, I'll also be doing a lot of dressmaking and knitting, and then reporting on that in due course.  I plan on embroidering some of my own clothes and even aspire to a crazy patchwork jacket in the fullness of time.

What about you?  Do you make any of your own clothes and/or accessories?  Any tips or experiences that you can share?  Let me know if you have any ideas and what you think of the selection on the pinterest board too.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Some Trimmed Up Baby Jackets

Today I'm going to share two of the four things I've stitched since my monster wedding projects series.  They're both baby knits and, yes, I knit them myself too.

I've got really into knitting lately, which partly explains the absence of embroidery projects shared on blog.  I've also recently completed a scarf and am well on with my first adult sized garment - a blanck chunky cardigan for me.  More on those another time.

The first two are premature sizes and were done with a view to entering the completed items into this year's Otley Show as there's always been a category for premature baby clothes before (afterwards to be donated to a local hospital's premature baby unit ☺).  However, when I saw the Show schedule for this year, they'd actually changed some of the categories and, with 10 weeks or less to Show date, the charity knitting class was changed to 'baby blanket, max 1m'  So, the two tiny cardies I'd knitted were no good as far as exhibiting there goes this year and the only other category that I'd something almost ready for, a scarf, was also dropped in favour of a knitted household item, so I decided to scratch from the Show all together.  I felt much better afterwards too as it would have been a fair strain to get all the pieces ready in time, as I like to enter enough to get myself a free ticket.

Anyway, I have two pregnant friends at the moment, so I decided to keep hold of these preemie knits just in case one of them arrives early and then later on either put them in another Show that has this sort of charity class or send them to a suitable unit or organisation myself.

This first, blue one is made to my usual go-to girl's pattern in beautifully soft cotton DK (King Cole Cotton Soft yarn) and stitched on in various Anchor & DMC Coton à Broder #16 shades.

The second one, in white Sirdar Snuggly DK was a tricky one to knit as it was more or less a one piece construction - but a good learning experience.  I decided to trim it up very simply so that it could serve for either a boy or a girl.  It isn't exactly what I'd hoped, esp. as I had to use Coton à Broder #25 instead of #16 (lack of colours in the range), but it's slightly more interesting that just plain white.  I also managed to mess up the buttonhole spacing, but I dare say the little mite who wears it won't mind in the least.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Stitchmaynia 2017 - a stimulus to get going again!

Apart from finishing off this small violets needlepainting (which I still need to write up for you) and doing some motifs on new baby knits (which I have written about, just not yet published), I haven't done a lot of embroidery this year so far.  Yesterday, however, not only did I start on a small hardanger piece for a sympathy card, but I also discovered one of those on-line stitching community challenge kinda things called Stitchmaynia.

I immediately interpreted this as getting as much stitchery done as possible during May, but apparently, that's not quite the original aim.  The 'pure' version is to start 15 items during May, but, unsurprisingly, many are creating their own permutations and I'm certainly going to be putting my own spin on it.  I mean, can you really see me running 15+ WIPs in one go?  The original Queen of 'a limited number of projects on the go at any one time' and 'no UFOs'??  As if!  So, I decided that I would take it as a stimulus to get on and finish two of the three things I have on the go just now - the hardanger card (more on that one in a later post), the Paradise Island XS:

(untouched for at many weeks - I know I didn't work on it during April and probably not March either), and a black chunky/bulky cardigan I'm knitting for myself:

I will also be starting and, hopefully, completing a few new things.  Here's the list of needlecrafts stuff I'd already posted on my other blog complete with comments on progress etc:

* Get on with 'Paradise Island cross stitch    65-70% complete so far
* Do some other embroidery  goal already met thanks to my hardanger work yesterday, but more to come
* Make a t-shirt  mostly at a workshop on sewing with knit fabrics I'm going to on Weds 10th
* Finish black chunky cardy  very much in progress, back and both sleeves already knit
* Knit Veli baby hat  to match a jacket I'll be publishing a post on soon
* Knit Tang baby cardy  another new start, but a fairly quick job
* Start on bag making tasks  i.e. Sat-Nav bag for Sir, backpack, knitting bag, manicure pouch

More on the sewing, and even the knitting, soon, as that's part of a major new project that will last a good couple of years or more and I plan on writing about that separately.

Other than just that, I have these to stitch on:

Intrigued?  Well, more soon!

Are you joining in Stitchmaynia?  If so, what is your personal version?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 1 May 2017

Needlecrafts Review of 2016

I can't believe I'm actually doing this 4 months late - I would have preferred it to have been posted on 31 December 2016, but here it is today - on the first day of May 2017 - the summary of my needlework year 2016.

I think it's safe to say that 2016 was Year of the Wedding for me.  I made stuff for 4 weddings, some of which ran in succession and kept me busy for quite some time.  I'm still wondering if the 'must get on with it' for so many weeks in a row is part of what's kept me away from embroidery most of the time since....??  Maybe I burnt out a bit.  May also be that I work better for a reason, rather than just for the love of the process and/or a lovely design.  It's in my make-up, I doubt I'll ever be any different in the way I work.

Here goes with the stats:

I made five cushions/cushion covers ('pillows' if US English means more to you.☺) which were:

- Two scatter cushion covers for us made with red fabrics, woven braids bought in Taiwan back in 2010 and machine metallic threads, both backed in black.  (I didn't get a decent photo of the completed braids one - they all bleached out.)

- One scatter cushion cover in hardanger: white and variegated peach on white and backed with peach and beige coloured fabrics.

- Two small wedding souvenir cushions, worked silk on silk to 'design specs' given by the couples (the grooms of which happened to be brothers.)

I also did two bellpulls, both as wedding gifts:

A wedding dress modesty panel:

A wedding card and an anniversary one:

Made a new Bible cover for my hubby:

Knit four baby cardigans (one still needed trimming up at the end of the year) and made two baby quilts:

And a 'finishing up' project where I mounted nine previously worked things (eight by me (including one I actually did in May), one by a friend) into cards and frames etc:

I also worked on one more knitting project - a scarf for me, and two embroideries, one of which was started in late 2015 (and finished in February 2017) and the other begun in August 2014 and is still dragging on ad infinitum.

Total number of full project completions was 16, plus the eight finish-ups of my own, makes a total of 24 for the year and 4 projects to carry over.  That's not too dusty, is it?  In fact, I think it may even be a record for me!  Even if I am a bit late.....

I'm adding no goals for the current year beyond that I hope that I finally finish the Paradise Island cross stitch and make that up into another scatter cushion cover and I have three small embroideries that I've prepared the fabrics and two of the sets of threads for.  I have another, quite major project underway at the moment and I'll be sharing that with you later this month.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017