Sampling, sampling, sampling.

This odd object is my latest (almost) finished sample – an exploration of oversized stitches and what to do with them. Those running in the direction of knitting were (deliberately) dropped stitches which I unravelled. The bands which go round the knitting are yarn overs. Before felting, I wove through some of the gaps, embroidered others, and left others as they were. I added some surface embroidery in some of the gaps.

Unfortunately the ribbons I wove through to resist the felting came out in the wash, but the holes haven’t completely closed up anyway, and I rather like the uneven effect. 

I shall add some more weaving before it’s finished, but there are already some ideas there to follow up. I like the dark blue band, woven with a thick twisted cord, the thick section where I wove with thick wool which has also felted, and a section on the bag where I worked simple running stitch in a thick yarn. 

As you can probably see, I’m working on different types of holes in the sample I’m working on now, on the right. The one on the left is the polypropylene one I wrote about last time. I shall stitch the edges of the polypropylene sections together to make tucks when I can work up the energy. I was going to knit them in as I went along but picking up the stitches was a little difficult, because the polypropylene is splitty. 

The Year of Stitches carries on. I am adding shisha mirrors to the black one, which has been a learning experience. I think it is close to being finished, although I may add some couching.

I can contain my enthusiasm for the other one: I’m not sure whether to carry on with it, or to abandon it and start something new. It has also been a learning experience – l learned that random colour schemes are not a good idea…

Life goes on.

There’s been lots of knitting since I last posted – including my fugly socks – so ugly that I photographed them in B&W to save you from the full horror of the colour scheme. But I normally wear them inside my slippers, and anyone who is close enough to see them will be grovelling at my feet, so I think I can get away with it.

My main Year of Stitches embroidery also demonstrates some horrible colour schemes – which is probably to be expected when you pick colours at random. When I studied colour theory for C&G embroidery, we were challenged to produce an ugly colour scheme. I found it quite difficult at the time – should have dawned on me that purple, yellow, orange and rust really don’t work together.

The threads for the one with a black background were carefully chosen, so, apart from the blue which reads as black, the colours are better.

I’ve finally finished the four Yorkshire Wildlife Trust vessels. I’d love to be able to use their wool for SKO’s, but I think it’s too fluffy for them – stitch patterns just vanish when felted. Might work for colour work, I suppose – which might be an excuse to buy some more. 

The before and after photos are of an SKO made from some left overs from the giant gloves – Berber rug wool from the much missed Texere yarns, although I think Airedale yarns sell it. I wasn’t sure how well it would felt, but it does so quite nicely – stands up well, but still plenty of stitch definition. (The odd colour of ‘before’ is because I photographed it in artificial light- ‘after’ is much more accurate.

I’ve got another experimental sample waiting to have some embroidery/weaving added to it before it goes in the wash, and one on the needles which has stripes of cream wool and fine black polypropylene. I kid you not, Airedale yarns sell it, and it’s softer than I expected, and quite easy to knit with, apart from being a bit splitty. We will see what happens when it meets the hot water.

Progress on several fronts -eventually.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust SKO turned out OK,  albeit a bit smaller than I was anticipating. It probably wasn’t worth working the pattern on it as it’s almost invisible in all that fluff, but it’s quite cuddly. I learned to sample before I knit, though it didn’t seem worth it for a piece made from 1 50gm ball.

The samples were rather less successful. It took three goes through the washing machine, at gradually increasing temperatures, to get any visible shrinkage, but I wasn’t intending to use this wool for a full scale SKO, (it’s 4ply) so that’s not a problem. I also learned that the colour of the black string runs. And that fake purple raffia is not my thing.

Despite  having a feverish cold for most of the week, I managed to keep up with 1 Year of Stitches. I learned that the black one is b****y difficult to photograph. 

And finally, after several weeks of procrastination, I added some stitch to an older, not so strange knitted object, which has improved it somewhat. I learned that stitch won’t correct a crooked SKO.

Quite a lot really, considering how grotty I felt for most of the week.

It’s been a long time…

during which I went round in circles like a headless chicken, trying to decide where my muse was taking me, apart from up shit creek without a paddle. Most of the good intentions I wrote about in my last post came to nothing. I did some playing around with marks, but it didn’t really lead anywhere. I think I did do some mindless knitting, although I cannot remember what it was.* Nothing much happened in November, December was hectic, and our very quiet Christmas allowed much needed R&R. 

But somewhere in the middle of all that, I restarted  my own knitting, and managed to produce some things which varied from satisfactory to quite exciting.

Which woke the muse up and got me going again. 

So here are my next group of Strange Knitted Objects. 

The top row is a collection of samples, waiting to be felted tomorrow – if I finish the WIP on the left in time. The one below is a prospective resolved SKO, although I’ve had to pull it back once as the shaping didn’t work out. The yarn is a blend of Hebridean wool and ‘Yorkshire’ alpaca, bought – I kid you not – from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Strange the things you come across on on Etsy, when you’re looking for something else. It’s lovely to knit with, we’ll see how it felts.

I’ve also signed up for One Year of Stitches. I’ve realised that my hands are not really up to a lot of embroidery any more, but a little bit every day is doable, no pressure, low stress and fun. So much fun that I started a second hoop. You will notice that a hand crept in there, which I rather like. There be another one, or more.

 My aim is to fill each hoop completely by the end of the year, if not sooner, and to use up as much stash as possible. This is 10 days worth. Disappointingly little stash reduction has taken place.

* I think it was a pair of socks.

The sound of silence…

has been because I’ve been in a creative slump – the muse has definitely gone on holiday, and unfortunately I haven’t gone with her. I couldn’t work out what to do with the masks idea, the 3D explorations were sabotaged by problems with my sewing machine and a lack of enthusiasm on my part, and the knitting has become predictable and boring. 

See photograph above of boring knitting. 

So I have gone back to basics. I am going to do some ordinary knitting – using a pattern! – written by someone else! – which will require very little thought, though I did have to unskein a couple of skeins of wool before I could start. 

And, inspired by an exhibition of Diana Harrison‘s work, and rereading Helen Parrott‘s book ‘Mark Making in Textile Art’, I decided:

1. To go back to embroidery,

2. That the sort of embroidery I like best is reliant on colour, and stitch as mark making,

3. So I needed to start exploring mark making through drawing and stitch. 

Which I did, and it was fun, because I started by taking lots of photos – until the printer started playing up. Still, that seems to be fixed now, so fingers crossed I can print off some photos and start work. 

The wedges below are not cheeses, by the way, but firewood stacked up at Mottisfont.

It’s been a busy week.

I knew it was going to be, but when the VHC went down with a tummy bug and had a couple of days off school, it got busier. (He’s better, I’m glad to say.)

Despite that, I seem to have got quite a lot done. There has been wire knitting – the beginnings of another vessel, and some earrings I will probably never wear.

So why make them? Well, the current MSED prompt was about ears, and I couldn’t think of anything except earrings. Except I’ve made a lot of earrings in my time (and I rarely wear those either). So rather than repeat myself completely, and as I’m experimenting with knitting wire, I decided to knit some. I cheated and found a pattern on Knitty, and after lots of mistakes (not the pattern’s fault) I quite like the result. If I was 30 years younger and less grey, lined and haggard I might wear them.

Other knitting has taken place. I can’t knit wire and read subtitles at the same time, so I had to cast on some conventional knitting as well. This is a sample of Sequence Knitting in the round, quite small, but I like the look of it, so I will probably add a base and felt it.

That’s a bit conventional, but I have just finished two SKO’s.  Both experimental, both due to be felted. I’m not sure if thecream  vessel will work, but you never know till you try. The long thin scarf will have the edges wired and it will then coiled up in some, as yet unspecified way.

And finally…

a homemade, largely recycled sketchbook. The cover is the cardboard from a book order, the pages are mostly flyers, painted with emulsion and Brusho. 

And that, plus a very helpful discussion about art, life  and everything with my friend N. made up my week.

Progress report

As you can see, one of the bits of papier-mâché has dried out. The other remains pretty damp, despite bringing it into the house and having the heating on. 

I’m not sure what to do with the half-balloon,  though. Isabel Hall couches stuff on to hers, which is a possibility, if I can find something which is a) thick enough for it not to take forever – this thing is quite big – and b) long enough not to run out before I get to the end. I have some single hanks of Collinette which may do, although they are mostly purple, and that doesn’t feel right. These 3D things tell me they want to be neutrals. I spent an afternoon earlier in the week attempting to make machine cord with some chunky brown wool left over from mammoth gloves, but after about 3 hours gave it up as a bad job. 

Despite that, it’s been quite a productive week. I have Made Something (almost) Every Day – plus the paper mache which was also MSED. 

You will have noticed that some of these are circular, which means I can use them for the 100 days project as well. 

I have painted the wire and plaster SKO as well, but no point in photographing that, as I painted it white.

And I have started making a small embroidery (almost) every day – if child care doesn’t get in the way. I started something similar after I’d read ‘Slow Stitch‘, but I made the mistake of making it too elaborate, so it ceased to be relaxing and contemplative. 

So now I make one tiny piece at a time, using scraps, and aiming to finish it in around 30 minutes. Well, that’s the aim! I’m more or less following the rules set up by Liz Kettle in this video, but I’ve added an extra one – the first piece of fabric must be picked from the box of scraps with my eyes closed, and whatever comes out I have to use. After that I can pick what to use with it.

Now you know where I get my chocolate from, if only when I’m feeling in need of emotional uplift.