Monday 30 April 2018

Ginx Woolly Linx Party May

Welcome to the May Ginx Woolly Linx Party. How quickly the months seem to come around. Thank you if you joined in last month. I really enjoyed looking at all your projects, and visiting your blogs. I feel like the party is settling down a bit, so there are some regular contributors, which is really nice.

My featured projects from April are Alexandra of EyeLoveKnots super slouchy beret. I love this style of hat, it is just perfect.

Tonna of Sew Crafty Crochet made an incredible cactus plant pillow. She picked just the right wools that at first I thought it really was a cactus.

Julie of Sum of Their Stories posted a tutorial on how to make your granny squares into a pencil case. Great idea, and I love the bright colours she has used. I think I may give this a go.

And finally Sandra of Hakelfieber made a little red devil, to mark that this was her 666th post on her blog. She may be a little devil, but she is also very cute.

Sunday 29 April 2018

Floral Skirt (or a lesson in getting on with things)

Some time last year I think I was looking round the shops with my daughter, and when we saw lots of nice long floral skirts, I did my usual trick of saying "But I could so easily make one of those for you". This time we actually got as far as getting a pattern, and some material, thread and zip. (A little side grumble here, but why are sewing patterns quite so expensive! It does quite often put me off.)

But I ashamed to say I got as far as cutting out and sewing the side seams, and then I just sort of stopped. I am sure other people do this. You know the knitting project started with enthusiasm, and then found a year later stuffed behind an arm chair. Not even sure why I stopped - something to do with dark nights, and the bulb blowing on my sewing machine.  Still haven't sorted that out ....

But I resolved to take up the skirt again this holiday, and realised that there was not much left to do. Just put the zip in, waistband on, hem, and I would be done. I got as far as the waistband, but the problem is that since I cut it out last year, she has grown and it didn't fit on the waist.

So I decided not to give up, but to do some alterations. The skirt should be quite long, but she was very insistent that she didn't want it very long. "Make it like that, and I won't ever wear it!" Good to know your own mind, I suppose. So I decided the best way to make the waist bigger was to take a strip off the top. So waistband and zip were removed, a whole section taken off. Zip resewn in further down the side seam. But alas, I then found I had gone a bit too far, and it was going to be too loose. So proper measurements were done, and two darts added to the back. 

Finally we are there. I think we are both very pleased with the result. I am thinking I might sew something for myself next. Expect to see it in 2019 ...

Thursday 26 April 2018

A Stitch in Time - Part Two

Here is the second part of my visit to see A Stitch in Time Exhibition at Ham House. You can look here if you want to see the first three garments.

What I forgot to say last time was that one of the things that most appealled to me about this programme was that everything was handstitched. When I did my City and Guild Fashion course I had one wonderful teacher, who admitted that she hated handstitching. She would show us ways to do almost everything using a machine - right down to sewing on buttons. But I am the opposite, I actually like doing a bit of handwork. (I think it is why I picked to sew a smocked blouse, and do some hand beadwork by hand on my African skirt. It is perhaps why I knit small items with quite a bit of sewing up, part of the process that a know lots of knitters loathe.)

Anyway I have slightly wandered off topic. Back to the exhibition.

This first one was probably my favourite of the garments, but my photo does not seem to have captured it well. The painting is of Dido Belle, the 18th-century daughter of an enslaved African woman who was brought up at Kenwood House in London.

The next garment is the only one where the inspiration does not start with a painting, but Amber visits the tomb of the Edward the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral. She also gets to look at the garment, called a jupon, which is kept under wraps now, but was hung on display in the cathedral for many year.

The final garment is this chemise dress of Marie Antoinette. This dress caused a scandal at the time the of the portrait, as it was not accepted for a queen to be seen in a garment made of such light cotton/muslin. I have also photographed the corsets, worn under the dress.

Just a reminder that although we are getting near the end of the month you can still join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Sunday 15 April 2018

Tortoise's Big Day Out

As promised my hand-knitted tortoise had a trip out to meet some real tortoises. They really are amazing and beautiful creatures. Most of these photographs show the baby tortoises, who are just a few years old. 

My friend got two rescue tortoises, and these babies were hatched from their eggs over more than one year. The baby tortoises were easier to photograph than the adults, as they were more eager to come out of their shells. They were also really pretty speedy. As you can see from the photo below where I was trying to get them lined up following my tortoise.

I finally succeeded.

This photo below is with one of the parents, I think Mum. My pattern for a handknit tortoise is for sale on ravelry, Etsy, and LoveKnitting. 100% of the fees for this pattern will be donated to the Tortoise Rescue Plymouth.

Just a reminder that you can still join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Thursday 12 April 2018

A Stitch in Time - Part One

Did anyone else watch a wonderful series on BBC4 called "A Stitch in Time". I accidentally found this programme, but then got completely hooked. Each episode picked a piece of historical art, and then recreated the clothes using the original materials and techniques. 

It was presented by the rather fascinating Amber Butchart - British fashion historian (well there is a career that passed me by, but I wish I had known about). She usually wears an elegant turban, or velveteen knickerbockers, and after guiding us through the art and the process of recreating the garment, the lucky duck gets to model the clothing at the end. So as well as all the technical sewing bits, she also tell us what it feels like to wear the garments.

So I was very excited when I found out that the six costumes were on view at Ham House, a National Trust property which is just up the road from where I live. I had a lovely morning visiting, and being able to closely look at the garments. I'm going to show my pictures in two posts, as I think there is a lot to take in.

Charles II  was credited with introducing the three-piece suit. The painting show him being presented with a pineapple by his gardener, John Rose. His outfit looks relatively simple but involves an extraordinary amount of fiddly hand-stitching – his jacket has more than 100 buttonholes, complicated pleating and yards of decoratively looped silk ribbons.

In the second episode she looks at Dutch painter Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait. The bulky, fur-trimmed wool dress is a brilliant green. The programme looks at the interesting process of weaving and dying the fabric. 

The starting point for this garment was a rare portrait of a working man, wearing a jacket probably second or third hand. The programme looks at working with leather. When the jacket is recreated and in pristine condition, it is clear that it started off as an incredibly elegant garment.

The series doesn't seem to be available any more on BBCiplayer though you can still see some interesting clips. I do hope they repeat it, perhaps on a main stream channel. The team who recreate the outfits are led by Ninya Mikhaila, and use only traditional methods. In their workshop is probably where I would like to be. 

There are so many people who love fashion, sewing, art and history. I am sure there would be the scope for another series. 

I will show the other three garments in another post in a few days. 

My daughter has shown me how to use Layout to arrange my photos. Never too old to learn. Expect all sorts of fancy arrangement in the future.

Just a reminder that you can still to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Saturday 7 April 2018


The answer to my question "What am I knitting?" was Tortoise. Sorry for not answering the guesses, but I thought it would stop anyone else guessing if I printed the answer. 

This knit has taken me ages, far longer than the amount of wool knitted warranted.  First there was all the research into finding the most tortoisey coloured wool. I have quite a limited range of wool shops, so in the end bought mail order from LoveKnitting. (Rather frighteningly easy. I am going to have to keep myself in check.) The wool arrived very quickly and beautifully packaged. It is 50% wool 50% linen, and has a very nice feel. I don't usually recommend a  particular wool, but usually I just suggest a ply. But for this pattern as there are so many interconnecting patches in the shell, I think just picking any wool may not work. But I would love to hear if you have success with another brand of wool, and if you can find one that is tortoisey.

Then there was a huge amount of looking at tortoises. As is nearly always the case when I start to study an animal, it turns out that there are a huge number of varieties of tortoise. I wanted to make my knitted tortoise as realistic as possible, but as there are so many types I had to simplify a little. I guess what I am trying to say is that it is all a bit of a balancing act. Trying to be realistic, against what is possible from wool and knitting.

So the shell of the tortoise is made from individual pieces, stuffed and patchworked together. They are a little like hexipuffs, but they are knitted with a top and bottom and seamed around the edges, as this was the best way to get the different shapes needed. (Did you know that the proper name for the upper shell of a tortoise is a carapace?)  I had knitted my first version of the top, which looked very flat, rather as if my tortoise had had an accident with a steamroller. Surprisingly my son (the maths whizz), who does not normally take a lot of interest in my knitting, gave me some great advice on how to reshape some of the sections to make the shell curve automatically when they were sewn together. 

The other part which caused me quite a lot of reknitting was the head - four versions in fact before I got to the final one.  It started off looking far too much like a bird of prey, and the next time rather obscene, which caused quite a bit of hilarity in my family and some rude nicknames for the tortoise .... But I am happy with how he turned out in the end. 

I am still checking the pattern, but it will be out very soon. I'm also hoping to introduce my tortoise to some real ones, so there may be some more photos next week.

Just a reminder that you can still to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Ginx Woolly Linx Party April

Howling at the Moon has made Alison the Alpaca from Book of Pica Pau by Jan Schenkel. Some of you might know I have a bit of a weakness for alpacas. 

Alexandra of EyeLoveKnots has shared her pattern for some cute Chicken Butt Coasters.

Linda of Linda's Crafty Corner has made this stunning blanket. I love the simple geometric design, and that so many of Linda's makes are for charity.

Finally I have chosen Handmade by Amalia's work in progress. Her picnic blanket is a riot of colour, and clearly her nephew loves it already.

I can't believe it is April already. Easter and April Fool's Day on the same day - when is the last time that happened. But it is about time that we had a bit of decent spring weather. If you were featured this month you can post the "I was featured" button on your blog. (I nearly picked more features this month as there were so many lovely projects, and only a very strict teenage daughter made me whittle down to four.) 

Remember you can link up any time in April, but if you link early please call back to see who else has joined in.

Thank you again for linking up to the March Party. I do enjoy seeing all your projects and visiting your blogs. Remember to spend a little time visiting each other and spreading the love. 

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