Thursday, 27 November 2008

counting down....

before and after felting....

I have been very good this year - for once (at least so far!) I am on top of christmas presents etc... I finished the coasters (yes, the ugly duckling was replaced) and I also finished the bag this morning. I dug out some of the Oliver Twists mixes and embroidered along the yarnover holes (they nearly close during felting, but make an easy line to embroider along). I had planned to put a button into the middle, where the spiral meets - but couldn't find a suitable one. so off I went into the shed to look for a base I could use. I found an old rusty washer in a good size and made it up a little with threads around and a "spiderweb" in the middle. I think it's good to go now - the small bag on the side is meant to be for a mobile, but to be flexible with it I fastened a spring fastening hook to one end. now the user can either clip it into the baglet (short strap), around the strap to pull it down as far as the strap reaches - or take it out altogether. it should be large enough for the usual sizes nowadays - I don't think many people still use the bricksize ones:)

I also put a small side bag inside - I hate it when hankies, labello etc. go awol inside a larger bag and I assume that's the same for most people. the strap is always a bit difficult - it all depends on the taste of the person and also on the body length! something that's suitable for me might be too long for a smaller person. I also like my bags (let's face it, with their huge size they should be called sacks:)) to hang down fairly low... well, don't look a gift bag onto its handle - or something like that!

so now I am down to one small present and one larger (1/2way done!). of course there is the baking and decos etc. - but that is never so urgent that I get into a jiffy about it. I already feel rather christmassy - I could just about hold back on putting a seasonal cd into the player this morning! might be due to the cold spell we're having right now - no snow yet, but it's growing colder every day and we had two hail showers already today. it's supposed to become colder and more wintry towards the weekend - so that I hope we don't end up having snow on saturday (though that might leave the bag for myself, as I don't fancy driving through snow and ice on summer tyres!).

Thursday, 20 November 2008

busy with small things

when my parents visited us in early summer, my mother brought over some small aster cuttings. I planted them and they rooted and grew well - but nothing happened. all of a sudden lots of buds appeared all over the plants and for a while it looked as if they'd be white! I haven't looked at them for a few days (miserable weather outside!) - and today I realised what lovely colours the flowers have! I hope all the buds will open as the plants are loaded with them! with all the brown, grey and drab colours outside they are a real highlight.

inside I finally dug out my bobbin lace board again! well, one of them:) I've been meaning to do more bobbin lace again for some time and I do have some really nice patterns still in storage. but somehow I never got around to actually do much, apart from the brief demo at the meeting of the "connacht textile crafters" some months ago. somehow either the pattern was too large for the yarn I had - or the yarn not the right quality etc. but now I found a link (go to "garnstaerke-tabelle) to a page, where the lacemaker can put in the original yarn and the yarn they want to use - and the computer recalculates the percentage that is needed for resizing the pattern! perfect - I just need to go into the library and make the copies there! of course it only works within reason - but that's the same for all crafts I guess! no good trying to make a fence out of finest silk:)
what's always annoyed me about bobbin lace - I don't fancy making loads of small designs just to empty the bobbins and I don't like to throw away all the yarn that's left on them to start something new - but I find it really hard to guess how much yarn I need for a certain project! I find it equally annoying that most lace designers don't bother to give yarn amounts they needed! ok, if you use loads of small amounts of coloured threads, I can understand that. but it's not really difficult to put the finished lace in a single colour on scales to have at least a reasonable idea of how much is needed? it's not so bad with simpler linen and cotton yarns, because they are not so expensive, but some of the newer silk yarns can be rather pricey and whether or not I buy a skein or roll more makes a lot of difference if one is priced at around 10-15 euro?
I was also working on some small things for exchanges for christmas. those here are small mug coasters, 6 as a set and one larger for the teapot:) I used the same yarn, but dyed with natural dyes in different colours. I quite liked the purple-dark yellow one at first - but seeing it through the camera lens made me go argh - it doesn't fit in at all with the less intense colours of the rest. but I wanted to wait to see if the colours change in the wash! they didn't or at least it's hardly noticable. I didn't use detergent, I just popped all of them into the washing machine, with a few towels that weren't really dirty.
you can see here that the colours barely changed (most of it is due to different lighting) - but they shrank quite a bit and don't look quite so overlarge under the mugs anymore. the felting also brought out the line of increases a bit stronger, but they are soft enough, so that the pots don't start wobbling. and of course they are fully washable now:) but I still think that I better take out the purple/yellow and add another one - I'll keep the misfit and maybe add a few more - and will finally end up with my own set (usually I am the shoemaker with the bad shoes, i.e. I make things for everybody else, but I never have a set for myself! maybe 2009 is the year to change all that?:)
I still have to finish one more exchange project - and of course there is still (at least) one larger christmas gift to be made! and time is running out quickly. I have to start baking over the weekend in earnest - the 1st advent sunday is coming up soon and I always try to have at least two or three varieties of cookies in the tin for this. well, if all else fails it's down to our traditional poppy seed stollen!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

after the show!

I think most people have different ways of thinking about time: the 4 seasons, before and after christmas, before and after their birthdays or certain important events - for me it has been before and after "Dublin" for the last 10 or 11 years. with good reason - we've been going to Dublin once a year to visit the knitting & stitching show in Dublin at the end of october or beginning of november ever since I came to ireland. this is probably very different for people, who live in areas where they can visit shops and fairs all the time - I know it was different for me when I was still living in germany! but over here in the west of ireland shops and fairs or shows for textiles of any kind are few and far between, so it's a pretty major event for me!

so, after our failure to find a taxi for thursday - we tried again for saturday! would you believe it? same story, no driver free.... what annoys me is that they don't tell you the truth! the train passes the house of one of the drivers, who told us he would have no time because he had to be elsewhere.... wonder how he got there, because his taxi was standing right there in the driveway:(( well, anyway - we did go! it was freezing cold in the morning but on the bright side - we had a lovely sunrise, surrounded by the quiet countryside and dozing cows in the fields that were white with frost!

and the show was much nicer than during the last few years! less stalls with stuff nobody needs - and more goodies for crafters on offer! more materials and several different lovely exhibitions. I went across it once just to check out what's on offer (sometimes before the show I dream that I can actually buy whatever I fancy without thinking of money:)) and where to spend my money best. then off to meet some people I know from the Irish Guild - and then back to the stalls to get what I like best! this time there were several things for spinners (well, actually, most of it was on stalls about felting:)), so I got a few small bags to keep me busy.
the brown fibre is BFL - Bluefaced Leicester, so soft! the grey looking ball is BFL too, called "Humbug", but it's not grey, it's a blend of natural white and brown. behind this, on the right side, the shiny looking white is Corriedale - and the large roll in the back is the highlight, a blend of 80/20 fine merino and possum. couldn't resist it, even though it was rather pricey... I will use it for myself this time, I see before my inner eye a long tabard-like vest, open on the lower sides or maybe open in the middle, with frog or chinese knot closures... and knitted from side to side. I don't know where that came from - but I've been meaning to make something like that for quite some time!
I bought some other stuff of course, but not as many books this time. only one, about "crazy wool", garments and bags etc. made from yarns that are mounted and sewn onto dissolvable bases of different kinds. I bought the latest "yarnforward" - not available as single issues over here. I had heard that it supposedly caters for the more experienced knitters and it contained some nice patterns, particularly one nice fair-isle together with a detailed article about "cutting steeks". I must say that it is a big improvement on the other british knitting magazines - though from seeing this single issue I'd still prefer the interweave knits mag.
the rest are canvas, scrim, aida and evenweave - I forgot to put the angelina fibres I bought into the photo and didn't put in the small stuff either - some beads, wire, a guild calender etc... unfortunately the "stranded cotton company" wasn't on the show after all (or at least I didn't find it, the map showed it but when I went to that stall, there was someone else there), but then I can order embroidery threads easily enough. the stall with injabulo buttons wasn't there either this time, even though one yarn supplier offered a few of them - but not those I wanted.
all in all I think it was worth going - even though we had to walk back from the station in the dark (I don't like driving the bike at night as I am blinded by every car coming towards me and get so panicky that I'd probably have broken a leg or something just through fright:(() and everyone was glad to have it over for another year:)) now I am looking forward to working with my new stash additions..... oh yes, I forgot - I wanted to make a neck warmer, but somehow I didn't like the pattern worked in the round - so I undid at home what I had knitted on the train - so much for "choosing the right knitting":)) and of course "after the show" - is also before the show again:))