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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BATB 2014: Whitework buttons with Jenny Adin-Christie

I enrolled in two classes in this year's Beating Around the Bush. This is the third one I have now attended, and each time I have enrolled in two, rather than three classes. Each time I have taken a one day class and a two day class. This way I have some hope of finishing the projects I enrol in. Less stress for me, more learning. My one day project this year was making an Ayrshire Button in Jenny Adin-Christie's Whitework button class.

photo courtesy Inspirations Facebook page
I chose this class because the techniques appealed to me, the projects were small and I could see a use for them.

Jenny offered five buttons to work on. Of course, I ordered the kits for all five. This sounds contradictory in light of my finishing goal - but the goal relates to learning as well as finishing.  I'd rather learn one thing thoroughly, get something to show for the class, then work more on it over time

Jenny worked hard. There were four different buttons being worked in the class. She used a nifty device to project what her hands were doing on to a screen - very efficient.

The Ayrshire button was the one most likely to be finished in class. The kit contained the linen already mounted on cotton - really good preparation by Jenny.

The Ayrshire button began with a large eyelet and progressed to needle-lace inset,

Jenny did a remarkable job of keeping tabs on what we were all doing, diagnosing, correcting and staying ahead of the game.

We got to do a bit of sanding to shape the backing disc.

We used curved needles to add the beads around the edge.

I was a bit too keen to remove my blue markers - ending up with a damp button to stitch the ric-rac on to - making it a more difficult that it needed to be.

I got there, however, before the class finished. I ended up adding an extra bead in order to align the bumps in the ric-rac.

Rather than mount my button for display, I chose the brooch option, and mounted the backing as soon as I got home and the button was completely dry.

I'm really pleased with the result, as well as the learning, the company and the camaraderie.

Each of the other four buttons will take a couple of days to make - but will make interesting and manageable projects - and great gifts.

I might take up one of the embroiderer's guild stitching evenings and work on each of the buttons in turn.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Birthday Dress

I have just taken a bit of a plunge and made a dress that isn't smocked for a granddaughter's seventh birthday. I have had a kit for a smocked dress, size 7, for several years, chosen for Veronica because of her colouring. I had, however, no kit in hand for her twin sister.

I've been looking for a few years (well, just over 30 years) for a dress to make with a piece of vivid blue cotton. The fabric was given to me when my own daughters were about the same age as the twins are now, by a cousin in England. She gave me several pieces. I used the others, but this piece remained.

It has an unusual weave. The warp has an openwork stripe that creates a tiny pleat effect, which is reinforced by a fine elastic thread running in stripes across the warp.  It is in remarkably good condition, given its age, with the elasticity still fully functional.

I've always had a notion to see if I could smock it. However, I decided to finally use it, and to find a very simple pattern that would give full effect to the texture of the fabric.

I came up with Simplicity 2377. It is an easy pattern, and I had some braid I thought might enhance it.

The pattern proved to be very straightforward. I went for sleeves. It has elastic around the sleeves and neck. I decided to add elastic under the bodice as well.

It will be very simple to put on and off.

The braid proved a little tricky - do you put it on the stretched fabric or the unstretched? I went for stretched around the bottom, using the machine. It produced a slightly flaired effect - not bad, but I rejected a second row of braid around the bottom (photo is washed out - the blue below is true).

I added braid under the bodice, but did it by hand.

I like the simplicity and colour of this dress. There is enough fabric left over to make a skirt - watch this space.

Penny, I do hope you are as pleased as I am that I finally got around to using your last piece of fabric! Niamh was certainly happy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hungarian Point Bag construction.

I delayed finishing my little bag while stitching birthday dresses, but I set myself a goal to finish before the next meeting of the Embroiderers' Guild Back to Basics group, which is tomorrow. The construction isn't as highly focused as the counted thread work, so it's easier to find a little time here and there.

First came chain stitch around the edges, and backstitching along fold lines.

After some hesitation I decided to add tassels at the bottom - an optional extra in the instructions. It is, after all, over three years since my tassel binge!

The scary bit is cutting the border away but it all folded up as it was meant to.

I used a small piece of silk ikat for the lining, top stitching it down.

The sides were then whipped together using the chain stitch outline thread.

A twisted cord secures the top.

I'm pretty pleased with my little Hungarian Point bag. I learned quite a bit and have a pretty, tiny bag to show for it.

Thanks to Carol Mullan for the teaching and design.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Second Cardigan

I had bought enough of Bendigo Woollen Mill's Harvest wool to knit a second Cardigan with lace front detail for my other daughter. This time the wool was in a dusty blue. This proved to be a fortuitous colour as most of it was knitted in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney while staying with friends.

We had a lovely time knitting, especially in the evenings, inside their warm houses with the mist and rain outside.

I also got a bit done on the train journey back down the mountain.

By the time I came home I had the back, one sleeve and one front finished, but competing demands slowed my progress once home. I have been helping my eldest granddaughter with her chosen project of making herself a Tudor costume as part of her research into Queen Elizabeth I. As she has to create a blog within the school as part of this, I am not posting myself, but will give you a summary and peek when the project is over.

Nevertheless, I've really enjoyed knitting this, and have finally finished it. The wool is lovely to knit. It feels good in the hand, is firm and takes a pattern well. I like the natural fleck, which adds interest. The colour in the photos is all over the place - the colour on the train and in the last photo are truest.

I initially selected blue buttons, but swapped them for smooth wooden ones. I have stitched them on back to front - hiding the flower transfers at the back and showing the smooth wood.

It's a little late in the season for an 8ply cardigan, but will get a bit of a run on cool mornings or evenings. This has been a great project - soothing and easy to pick up and put down.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hungarian Point update

I have not posted for a couple of weeks. While I continued stitching on my recent visit to friends and family in Sydney, I wasn't in a position to post and I've had a backlog of other things to do since I returned. Usually I have a couple of posts in reserve for such situations, but have run my reserve out!

I had intended to finish the Hungarian Point work while away. I didn't want to take the many skeins of stranded thread I might need as I figured it would end up tangled. I therefore devised a little aid. I chose the graduated colour threads I thought I might use, cut a 40cm length of each and threaded them into a spare piece of linen that Gay Sanderson had kindly given me in class.

This worked really well - I could draw out individual strands of the thread and also see where the gradation was or wasn't working.

While I managed to do a bit of this stitching on the plane, I discovered I couldn't manage counted thread work AND talk to friends - so the counted thread work didn't progress very far until I got home.

It is then much harder to pick it up again, as you are out of the rhythm and have forgotten a bit.I had hoped to extend the pattern a little to enlarge the bag slightly, but was having so much trouble getting back into the flow of it that I decided to stick with the original size of the bag.

I finished the counted thread work yesterday. As keen eyes will see, there are a few errors evident in the last colour waves on the left-hand end.


My little linen thread sorting mechanism helped me a to repair some of the damage by identifying the colours I needed to fill a couple of gaps.

I debated unpicking back to the green, but I doubt my eyes are up to it. I will move on to the construction phase and use it as a learning tool.

I wasn't idle while talking to friends - some more on my knitting project soon!