Saturday, 27 March 2010

artreach quilting bee

In the past few weeks, I have mentioned that I have been working with Northwood Artreach, running crafty workshops for the community. The outcome needed to be a group art piece which could be displayed, so with the present popularity of quilts, not least due to the fantastic V&A exhibition, I decided to make a quilt-like wall hanging, with inspiration from Tracey Emin's beautiful textiles artwork. Finally, we have finished our own version of an art quilt, with each individual contributing a beautifully crafted square based on our initial inspiration of Winter Colours.

I had a fantastic time with these lovely folk and am glad I could help bring out their creative side. Some of them may never have done any textiles work before, while others had not touched a knitting or sewing needle in years, but were inspired to begin making for themselves again after the class.
I am very impressed with the diversity of colour, texture and technique used and the individuality of each contribution and the final piece has come together really well. The picture (above) shows the initial arranging phase of the final quilt. I will post a final picture hanging in situ asap. It will be displayed in a community theatre very shortly, which is fabulous for the quilters!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

alice's knitted dress and cardi set

I am a very lucky girl; not only have I got to spend a lot of time recently with a fabulous bunch of folk at Northwood Community Artreach, but one of them has gifted me the most beautiful children's clothes. Alice wore this knitted set wen she was a child, as you can see in the adorable picture below. It is the softest yellow wool with chocolate brown Fair Isle edgings and would look as fabulous on a child today as it does on Alice as a little girl.

The set was hand knitted for Alice by her grandmother, Cecilie (what a beautiful name) who was of scandinavian origins - hence the neat tension and simple yet striking colourwork detailing. Cecile is pictured below, right, next to a photo of Alice with her mother, Inger, a very smart and stylish lady if ever I saw one! These ladies knew how to dress, and how to dress their little ones.

I am determined to use this dress to make a replica in modern yarns so that others can dress their little girls in this style, as I think it is a warm, practical and beautiful way to clothe children and I wish there were more patterns and clothing available like this today.
Any ideas on the colourway I should knit it would be greatly appreciated. I love the yellow and brown, but want to make something a little more contemporary. Perhaps a pale blue with blood organge red contrast? Or olive green with pale pink? Oh, I could go on and on...

Thank you so much Alice for sharing these with me, I shall treasure them.

More pictures soon of what the talented folk of Northwood have been working on, and hopefully of my version of the Alice dress.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

fabric corsage tutorial

This pattern is very simple and yet very effective. You do not need to have any previous sewing experience as all the sewing happens at the back of the corsage and so is hidden away. It also takes no time at all to make -  it is unfussy, easy and quick.

A variety of fabric circles as wide in diameter as you want the corsage to be. The one I am working on here is 6cm in diameter. You will need at least 10 circles, but you can add as many as you need to make the corsage as full as you like.
Scissors or plinking shears, dependant on the edge you want to achieve
Sewing needle and thread
Safety pin or kilt pin, or hair slide, dependant on whether you want a brooch or hairclip

Step one
Cut out the circles, using a template to ensure each is the same size

Step two

Fold each circle in half and sew it to secure

Step three
Attach each folded semi circle together along the fold using simple tacking stitches and keep adding circles until the corsage is as full as you desire

Step four
Attach a safety pin, kilt pin, brooch back or hairclip to the back of corsage. 

Et voila!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

knitted rock

A few weeks back, I went to see the knitted rock at the Tate Britain. It was part of an installation by Andy Holden called Art Now. I was really interested to see the exhibit as I had seen the rock in pictures and have to admit I was not that impressed. However, I am not the sort of person to judge without seeing with my own eyes, so made sure to search it out when I went to see the Chris Ofili exhibition.
I was pleasantly surprised, as I actually loved it! The rock was covered in panels of stocking stitch and I do love a simple piece of knitting; it allows the yarn and texture of the stitches to really stand out. This was very true of this piece. The yarn was plied up from strands of slightly differing shades, making a subtle melange of colours, dotted with slubs of darker and lighter fibre, which had a very attractive texture.
The panels of colour were also placed well, fading from darker at the bottom of the rock, to lighter at the top, making it look even larger and higher. Certain sections were shaped with short rows to fit every contour of the object, which I found very pleasing - it would have been very easy to cut and sew each section with little thought to the shape.
It was great to visit with a fellow knitter who is also well travelled and saw the piece not just as a small rock, but also seemingly a landscape. When looked at in this light, each fluffy dark slub of fibre on top of the rock looked like some shrubbery or trees way off in the distance on some desolate rocky knoll.
All in all, I found this piece to be a fabulously interesting work of art, perhaps especially due to my innate love of a piece of knit!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

my top five knitting tips

People often ask me what little tips and tricks I can give them to help with their knitting, especially when they are beginners. I have compiled my Top Five with regards to practicality - how to try to prevent strained wrists, tennis elbow and cramp, finishing - different techniques for a professional finish, and enjoyment - how to make knitting as relaxing as possible. So here goes...

1. Try to have at least two projects using differing weights of yarn on the go at the same time. I find it eases any RSI related aches and pains – a knitting project and a crochet project is especially good at varying the repetitive motions. Also, don't knit for long periods at a time - especially as a beginner; build up your tolerance to the repetitive motions.

2. Always buy more yarn than you think you need – most good yarn shops will allow you to change that extra ball if you find you don't need it later.

3. Learn a few different cast ons – they all have specific jobs, like durability or stretchiness – which will suit different projects.

4. When learning to knit, get into the habit of counting your stitches at the end of each row so you can catch mistakes when they have just happened – it is easier to rectify straight away, and you usually don’t have to frog, you can correct most mistakes on the next row.

5. ...and most importantly – Practice makes perfect! Anybody can knit, it just takes practice and patience at first - you will soon be doing it without thinking, in front of the telly and really quickly. Push on through all your first 'beginner' mistakes and don't get too precious at first - remember the mantra 'knitting is relaxing!', don't tense your shoulders, try not to think about what you are doing too much and most importantly, don't forget to breathe!
Next, I shall try to compile my top five for more experienced knitters (although all these 'beginner's' tips can apply to you too). If you crocheters out there think I have forgotten you, maybe I will get round to my crochet 'top five' too!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

let's get crafting!

I am very excited as I have just received my copy of the special baby knitting issue of Let's Get Crafting in which I am interviewed. If you do not own Easy Baby Knits, the adorable little wrap cardi from the hardback version's cover is featured, so you can try before you buy!
My top five knitting tips are very useful even if I do say so myself, so I shall feature them here tomorrow. Watch this space...

Monday, 1 March 2010

mothers' day knitting class

If you and your mother have always wanted to learn to knit, or you are a mum who wants to knit with her children, then here's some good news; I am teaming up with the fabulous Millamia knit company to teach a class over Mothers' Day weekend in London, the 13th and 14th March, using their fabulous kits to create a beautiful scarf.