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Friday, July 29, 2016

Knitting: Shetland tunic

18 months or so ago I was inspired by a friend who had knitted herself a couple of lovely tunics to wear. I was staying with her when Bendigo Woollen Mill purchased a bale of Shetland wool to spin and offered the resulting Aran weight yarn to their regular customers. I bought what I hoped was enough to make myself a tunic. As I was travelling in the UK for much of the last Australian winter, I got going this Winter and knitted away for several weeks before my knee operation, trying to finish it.

The pattern I chose is great. It gives texture and interest but is predictable and memorable once you have worked a full sequence. I've been able to work without constantly consulting the pattern, and can tell very quickly if I have made an error. I would, however, have been better off allowing an extra ball of the yarn. The bale sold quickly and I have no chance at all of getting more. I want the tunic to be loose and comfortable, so it needs to be quite large.
This is the back - which would make a decent baby blanket!

It was lovely to knit - so soft on the hands.

The pattern is an easy one. It was easy to tell if I  had made a mistake and to retrieve it before I went too far. At the same time, there was sufficient need to concentrate to make it interesting to knit.

It took me about a month to knit the front and back, finishing the front while watching the long vote count on election night with friends. I knitted the first sleeve on my recent trip to NSW and the second on my return, finishing in time to go to hospital for my knee reconstruction!

Although I  had been worried that I had ordered enough wool, I did want this to be quite long and roomy, so made it to the prescribed body length. I rang Bendigo Woollen Mills and discussed substitutes, consequently ordering a couple of balls of 10ply merino. The match wasn't perfect but I thought I might be able to be creative with bands on the sleeves.
In the end I didn't need to supplement it and finished with a small amount left over.

It  could, I think, be a smidgen longer but, although it is clearly longer on the skinny pattern model, it is the length recommended in the pattern.  It is very warm and cosy - perhaps rather more than required in Adelaide but I have worn it all day a couple of times and found it comfortable - beautifully soft. It would go well with the alpaca hat I knitted a few years ago - if I could find it!

The imbecilic look in the photo is the result, not of the tunic, but of the need to focus on looking ahead rather than on the camera button on my phone.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

70th bag: Construction

The first task in constructing my 70th birthday bag was to join the two pieces together. They were quite firmly quilted by the stitching, which was through two layers of fabric sandwiched with wadding.

I trimmed off the bottom of one bag so that one layer of unstitched figures formed the base. I then joined the sides and mitred the bottom corners to form a base and sides.

 I used a woven belt that my late husband had bought in, I think, Indonesia, to form the handles. The colours were so bright and it seemed appropriate. Jim would have enjoyed being part of this.

The belt had lovely tasselled ends. I cut it in half so that each side of the bag has a tassel.

I examined many pieces of fabric for lining - florals, figures, plains - all appropriate, but the one that grabbed me was this print of little astronauts in a vivid blue sky. The colour was terrific with the bag - and the theme of possibility, endeavour and imagination struck me as perfect.

So in went the lining and the bag is finished. It really has been one of the most enjoyable and satisfying I've done

I am posting this from hospital while recovering from my knee replacement, using my iPhone, so have less control than usual over layout. Apologies for any glitches.

Monday, July 11, 2016

70th Bag: 2nd side

The weather was a little cooler when I began the second side of the 70th birthday bag, so I tried to give the figures slightly warmer clothes - long sleeves, boots and more leggings. I was also more generous in using specialist threads - I didn't need to ration them as much on the home stretch.

I also tried out a few Kantha stitches - such as the laced running stitch in the Fig.1 jerkin and in the yellow leggings, the 'marching ants' in the blue trousers and the blue top of Figure 2. 
Fig 2
I used quite a bit of variegated thread in perle 5, or even 3. It gives a lovely dense coverage.                            
The greatest challenge is hair - getting variety as well as texture and colour. Bullion knots and French knots proved very useful.

One disadvantage of using the black and white print fabric is that I get only white faces and need to find other ways of showing complexion and ethnicity. The medium is not subtle enough to shade skin tone.

I tried to include a few headscarves but found it unexpectedly more difficult to get the effect I wanted than I expected. At least one of my attempts ended up looking more like hair than a headscarf!

I incorporated quite a few Kantha stitches.

The best coverage came from rows of stem stitch. I managed also to use some gold thread.

Variegated thread worked a treat. One of my grand-daughters had given me some amazing hanks for Christmas which I incorporated.

It was quite easy to vary the embroidery of the four repeated shapes to get quite a variety of figures and shapes.

My Julia Gillard pieces gave more scope for incorporating different stances and activities, but this allowed for a surprising variety in a different way.

Here are the two sides - 70 figures - finished. The un-embroidered lower rows allow for the bottom of the bag.

My next post, hopefully while recovering from my knee reconstruction tomorrow,  will show construction and finish!