Monday, April 28, 2014

Playing with fabric and torturing myself with knitting

 After visiting my brother and his family in their caravan in the Dales at Easter, I came home inspired to make sister-in-law a little caravan warming present for her birthday next month.  So, I made her a cushion.

With a little picture of their 'van, complete with the resident pheasant who stalks them, and their little spaniel Tess, peeping out of the window.

I edged it with some strips of Amy Butler prints, that I bought years ago in bundles of scrap strips for £1 from the Cotton Patch, a lovely patchwork shop that I used to pop into for a bit of a break when I was up in Birmingham visiting my dear old Dad when he was very ill.
I had quite a collection of these strips, about six bundles in all and taking them out to make s-i-l's cushion got me thinking, and the thinking led to a lot of time on Pinterest, a bit of playing and rather a lot of sewing...and the whole island unit and the dining table covered in my playthings.

I tried scrappy log cabin blocks for the first time and love them! These are from scrappy bundles of Kaffe Fassett prints - I'm rather partial to Kaffe Fassett's fabric designs.

Then it was onto quarter log cabins.

Next up was scrappy Courthouse steps.

Then just some tiny 2.5" scrappy squares - the fabric strips are between 1 and 1.5 inches wide before piecing so become very skinny when stitched together.

...and a bigger version of the same (this might be my favourite).

Some random scrappy strips, that I was rather pleased with.

During my play with scraps I unearthed a bundle of 3.5" squares leftover from a fabric flower making session from ages ago and decided to throw them together and see what happened. Certainly not planned but I quite like it for it's complete randomness.

And finally, some scrappy log cabins made with the Amy Butler strips.
None of them have been made up into anything other than squares just yet and I'm not sure what I'll do with them but I lost myself so completely in all that happy stitching and it was so much fun to just do it for the sake of it.

I don't know if you're the same as me but I rarely let myself sit down and play for playing's sake, because I seem to feel I need a definite end product in mind when I set out to do some sewing (or knitting, crochet etc etc!). This can mean that I end up completely stalled, spending a good deal of time thinking about things I'd like to do but not actually doing them!

In other news, I had a lovely day out at Guild on Saturday, in which we were treated to a very interesting and inspiring talk by Ritta Sinkonnen-Davies, a Finnish textile artist, who now lives and works in Pembrokeshire.

Her talk about using fabric strips in weaving really struck a chord with me, especially in light of my recently playing with scraps adventure, and for the first time I felt properly inspired to give weaving a go. It's never really appealed before, partly because many of the fantastic weavers at Guild seem to be very technical and I felt a bit intimidated and that it wasn't for me. However, that may well have changed and I may have had a bit of an accident in Wingham's and there might be a new toy winging it's way to me soon....

Mr Moog took the news of my accidental purchase rather well really. His eyebrows only slightly shot up.

Every September the Hampshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers has a stand at the Romsey Show, a one day agricultural and countryside show. I went last year for the first time and we did a 'Fleece to Finished' challenge, in which we carded, spun, plied and knitted some jacobs fleece into a child's sweater in the course of the day. It was great fun and I've signed up again for this year.

This year's show is to have a World War 1 theme, what with it being the centenary of the start of that terrible war and all. We're going to be spinning in Edwardian costume this time around - should be interesting!

As part of that we're having a display of knitted items that are like those that would have been knitted at home for the boys on the front-line. We were given a choice of things to knit, including socks but I plumped for a helmet and came home armed with a copy of an original pattern and this wool.

This is not only a revolting pooey khaki green colour but it is also the harshest, itchiest, most sandpapery yarn. It's utter torture to knit with, like parcel twine, although it's doing a grand job of making my rough old-lady hands feel smooth - I'll be all set for spinning silk after this....or committing the perfect crime, what with the fact that I'll have no fingerprints left!

The thing that has struck me most, however, is that this is completely authentic yarn of the type that would have been used back then. That makes me feel nothing but admiration for the thousands of knitters who spent the war knitting many thousands of scratchy, wire-wool garments to keep their soldiers warm and it makes me feel a profound sense of pity and sadness for those poor, brave men who as well as dealing with the horror of fighting, and the dreadful conditions within the trenches, also had to spend the war encased in torturous, itchy clothing that probably made them wish they could peel their own skin off!

That's keeping me going. I'm knitting it in remembrance.

So, two posts in a week. That must be some kind of record for me! Let's finish with something soft, pretty and not in the least bit itchy. This week's spinning project that I started at Guild - some gorgeous, rainbowy shetland and silk from my favourite fibre shop


Moogs xxx


Thimbleanna said...

You are SO stinkin' funny! You always make me laugh -- it's so fun to see you back to posting. I would say, "sorry to hear about your accident", but in this case, it sounds like a great accident!!!

trash said...

Eurgh! Imagine it as undies.

Gina said...

I'm rather enamoured with those Amy Butler log cabin squares!And love your free machined caravan too, of course!

Plum Cox said...

Great work - I can't believe how many different scrap blocks you've made, they are wonderful!

Interesting about the itchy yarn. makes it all the more real, when you get to feel what it actually felt like, I guess.

Locket Pocket said...

Oh that caravan cushion is just the best thing ever!!! Your brother and sister-in-law are going to love it! And look at all that pretty scrapiness! Have a look at the book Sunday Morning Quilts if you get the chance - it's full of scrappy gorgeousness.

It's terrible to think of how scratchy that wool must have been to knit with and to wear - we are so incredibly spoiled these days with our merino and silk blends! On the subject of silk blends, your new spinning is the prettiest thing ever! What are you going to knit with it? It makes me want to get back up out of bed and go and start knitting right away!xxxx