What happened in July?

Creatively speaking, that is.

Knitting wise, after the red sweater went wrong again, it was put in the naughty basket, and I went back to SKOs.

These were an attempt to develop a standard pattern for this shape (#1), combined with a variety of surface treatments – cables and fringy bits. It’s hard to know how well it would have worked if it had shrunk.

July’s theme for embroidery, from Jean Draper’s book Stitch and Pattern, was cloud formations. To begin with, I was stumped for ideas, but I picked up a couple of machine embroidery books in search of inspiration, and found quite a lot.

These are all hand embroidery. 1. which I really like, is made from patches of silk paper on Sinamay. 2. was made on the embellisher, with added stitch, and 3. is Trapunto.

These are machine embroidery, some more experimental than others. 1. & 3. are cut back appliqué, using sheers. 3. is on a painted fabric base, 1. was worked on wash away stabilizer so it’s reversible. 4. is free motion quilting. That’s probably more machine embroidery in a couple of weeks than I’ve done in years.

However we’re a week into August. This month’s theme is mazes and labyrinths, so, whereas last month I didn’t have enough ideas, now I’ve got too many.

Two Weeks in Which Not Much was Achieved.

Apart from a lot of procrastination.

I’ve kept on with ICAD

And also with knitting. But I have also kept on making mistakes in the knitting, so it’s in a basket waiting to be pulled back yet again. In the meantime I’ve started an SKO. I think that will need pulling back too, it needs to be on bigger needles, but it’s only small, and I see pulling back as part of the SKO design process.

I’ve been procrastinating about embroidery because: 1. It’s too darn hot, and 2. This month’s Jean Draper inspired theme, Cloud Forms, had me stumped. I have a tendency to treat design ideas too literally, and knowing that wasn’t the way forward didn’t help.

I tried the Oblique Strategies app, which came up with ‘cliché’, which was the opposite of what I wanted to do, but which was really helpful. Clip art clouds in blue and white in progress.

The next piece had to be less conventional. I fossicked around in my fabric stash, with the idea of trying to find some cloud-like hand dye. I kept telling myself, ‘not blue’, but it was hard to stick to that! However, I did come across a failed print on a white, floral sheer, which I thought I could embellish into another fabric in cloudy swirls. So I did. Right side on the top, wrong side on the bottom.

I think I shall add a scatter of white seed stitch in the clouds, if not seeds.

Jean Draper mentions the repeating rhythms of cloud forms, so while I had the embellisher out I thought I’d try a few. Inspirational photo to the left, right side in the middle, wrong side at the right. It looked dreadful half way through, but because the back looked better than the front, I persisted with it, trying to get the back darker.

The red bits fragmented, and the black fabric almost disintegrated in the process. (It’s the same fabric I used for the black and white piece, which didn’t disintegrate at all!) And I decided I preferred the front, because of the texture. It doesn’t look much like clouds, but I like it.

And finally, while I was pottering around with fabric, I came across the silk paper I made a while ago, which looked cloud-like. A bit of judicious tearing and a piece of Sinamay produced this. More conventional, and I’m not sure how I’m going to sew it together, but worth a try.

So, when stuck, rummage through the stash and see what emerges.

Another Long Week

In which the only embroidery I did was to add ‘July 2022’, in preparation for this month. All the rest was completed weeks ago.

I have managed to keep up with ICAD…

and my knitting, although I had to restart the second sleeve which ended up about 10 cm too long because I got the pattern of increases wrong. This is the reknitted version.

Where did the time go? Despite saying that we wouldn’t, we changed our minds after discovering that the blinds would take 5/10 weeks. So a lot of it was spent moving stuff, including 2 desks, around the house, following the carpet layer’s visit. So this…

now looks like this.

Instead of having the dining room packed to the rafters with stuff, we now have the dining room and my workroom semi packed to the rafters with stuff.

Those long boxes are Billy bookcases, awaiting assembly. There is more disassembled storage in the dining room. I think it will all fit in. I hope.

And now the Tour de France has started, a lot of time will be spent in front of the TV. In the short term that will also be knitting time, until I can sort out some ideas for embroidery.

A ‘Week’ of 11 days.

In which not much progress was made.

Thing A. morphed into Thing B.

And Thing C. into Thing D, which is my favourite of all these odd things with beads/buttons/shells added.

A lot of ICADs have been made. I’m not sure if they are all there or in the right order.

And the pulled back red sweater has reached this stage. I’ve found a different pattern which is knitted bottom up, unlike the previous attempt which was top down. Hence the separate sleeves. I prefer the other way but I was fed up with struggling with that numbers in that pattern.

Behind the sweater you can see the new carpet, which, despite appearances, is not grey but blue. And so much better than its baby nappy coloured predecessor.

This is slightly more accurate. There is more furniture to move back in, but we’re awaiting the fitting of blinds before replacing it.

A Week in Which Progress was Made.

These spider-like things have gained a backing, and one of them has even been sewn down. With added buttons.

I think they would look better on black but I’m still playing around with tone on tone.

Another before and after. After a failed attempt to sun print on an ICAD, using silk paints and without any sun, I used up the left overs of paint to paint some of the silk paper – the darker piece on the right.

In the course of looking for the silk paints I found something called lace dye, which I had forgotten I had, and have never used. The instructions said it could be used, well diluted on fabric, so I tried it on another piece of silk paper, in which I had embedded physalis husks. As you do.

I have no idea what to do with either of these, but an idea may come to me.

This is another thing which seemed like a good idea at the time. Years ago someone gave me a Perfect Pleater, because she had never used it. Neither had I. Till yesterday. No idea what I’ll do with that either, but they are very nice pleats.

I was very doubtful that this would work, but it has. In the second and third photos, the only thing holding all those springy fibres together is random Cretan stitch, worked on both sides. I poked holes in it to make it look like it was disintegrating more than it really is, and will add some stitch to emphasise the holes.

These are this week’s ICADs. The blue one is the unsuccessful sun print – the leaf shapes should be lighter, not darker! From left to right, the prompts were root (In this case, carrots), rainbow, cyanotype, Rubies cube, Pictogram and found.

And finally, a complete disaster. This was machine stitch, worked on painted paper with a layer of soluble fabric to stiffen it. The idea is that when you rinse the soluble away, it partly disintegrates the paper. I’ve done it before, with success. Not this time.

Has it really been three weeks?

Things got worse before they got better, but they have got better and I am feeling more energetic. We have a car again so we can go places – but this week we have school holidays, public holidays, and for a few days, some warm weather, so it was a good time to stay at home and avoid the traffic.

So plenty of time for embroidery. Looking back I’m surprised how much I’ve achieved.

This month’s Jean Draper pattern is breaking and separating: the examples she gives are of marble and other patterned stones. I’m struggling a bit with this one, and things aren’t helped by the fact that the embroidery examples she gives are both made using machine embroidery. And I don’t have a working machine…

So I’ve allowed myself to be sidetracked into exploring hand stitch on soluble fabric, based on suggestions in Draper’s other book, Stitch and Structure.

A mention in Stitch and Structure of working with silk threads lead to s looking for silk fibres left over from long ago silk paper making. Which led to silk paper making, the sort you use gummed cocoon strippings for. I was just going to make a couple of sheets but I kept thinking of new things to sandwich in the the middle.

And one thing I have learned was that you should not handle soluble fabric with damp hands. I ended up very sticky, as did the ironing board I was working on. Fortunately the cover is removable and washable.

Another thing I have learned is that I should work a tension square before starting to knit a new sweater. I got nearly to the end of the red one, and realised that it was two sizes too small, even for my post Weight Watchers self. So that’s having to be pulled back.

A Fortnight to Forget

In which things happened, to others and to us, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Well, I would, it’s what they deserve. But we have survived, and the worst is over, or it will be, when we get the car back from its lengthy stay in the body shop recovering from the hit and run.

The loan car we had has had to go home, so we can’t get out much, unless we walk or get a taxi. Now I have no excuse for not being productive. Now things have settled down a bit, I’ve got back into the groove: this is some of what has been happening.

These were inspired by last month’s Jean Draper inspired topic, cracking and packing patterns. The two on the left may seem a long way from bubbles, but that’s where they started. The one on the right is based on tree bark. I’d forgotten how much I like doing drawn thread embroidery, especially when it gets a bit anarchic.

This month’s theme is angular patterns. The strange yellow thing is the card frame I made a while ago, some cord from my cord making bonanza, and some tapestry wool and dyed lolly sticks from my stash. Yes, I have strange things in my stash. The others are more drawn thread work, and, unusually for me, some machine work.

The latter met a lot of my intentions for this year. It’s angular, it includes some relatively unusual techniques for me, and it uses up some stash.

There were layers of four different scraps of fabric. I started with 2 layers of fabric painted with chalk paint, one with added ink, the other dry brushed with gold paint. Then I added a piece of cream Lutradur, and topped it with Tyvek painted gold on one side and turquoise on the other. It was machine stitched with metallic thread and ironed. At which point the Tyvek almost disappeared, leaving just a dusting of greeny gold on the cream Lutradur. I cut back through some of the layers, and because the Oblique Strategies app came up with ‘Accretions’ I added some beads and sloppy French knots, which I rather regret now.

These are my collected knitting samples, all different colours because I was using up remnants. I enjoyed myself trying out new-to-me cast ons, stitch patterns and cast offs. some of these will make their way into new SKOs, some of them won’t. (Strange versions of Icord, I’m looking at you.) They were fun to knit, and I think I’ll do some more when I’ve finished the red sweater.

I’ve only had to pull it back twice, once just after I started when I decided it needed bigger needles, and once after I’d got most of the way down the first sleeve and decided I’d started decreasing too soon.

When it’s finished I’ll be able to lie on the floor and be camouflaged. Or maybe not.

Sun and Sewing.

It’s been a much better week than last week, I’m glad to say, And quite productive, despite feeling a bit uninspired at the beginning of the week.

I occasionally use an app called Oblique Strategies, when I need a kick in the creatives. Last week the prompt was ‘Go to an extreme, come part way back’. Given that this month’s design theme is ‘packing and cracking’ my first idea was to break something and put it together again, like Japanese Kintsugi. But that seemed a bit too extreme.

Then I cracked my phone screen. I wasn’t up to repairing it with gold lacquer, but I could draw the pattern of cracks, and play around with them for my 100 day project. So I did. These and a lot more.

Then I got a bit more violent, and attacked a plastic pot with a lump hammer. As you do. And reassembled it like this, following ideas from Jean Draper’s Stitch and Structure.

After that I began to have a few other ideas. This is my fallback technique, needlepoint, so not very experimental as far as I’m concerned, although I’m only using tent stitch, which is rare for me. The design was based on an image of cracked tarmac.

It looks a mess because of all the away knots but those will gradually vanish.

To try to get a bit more experimental in my sketchbook, I’ve started working through a book called Fast Art. One of the suggestions is to make your own Tape Art, which was something new to me. The book’s version is simpler and more portable than the wonderful examples I’ve found on line, but it was still fun to do.

And one thing led on to another. I had some left over card and tape, and I remembered I’d thought about doing some weaving over a card frame…

That’s some of the miles of cord I made last month.

And finally, a completed SKO, and the start of another one, must be around the 10th one?

I am getting a bit bored with the SKOs, and I have a sweater’s worth of red wool waiting, so I may take a break in their production. After what happened with the last sweater, I may need an entire summer to finish it.

It was All Going so Well…

It’s been a pretty productive week, until the end. Which has been destructive…

Despite being out quite a lot, I managed to finish this, and added it to APONGS, together with that undisciplined coil of cords.

Getting the allegedly ‘heat soluble’ stabilizer out turned out to be a nightmare, so much so that I threw the rest of the packet away. However, the residue of the stabilizer, and/or the thin wire I wrapped round the cord, made it quite firm, and I could probably have got it to stand up if I’d wanted to. But by then I’d had enough, so I tacked it down and added a few beads.

This is almost everything I made in March, apart from a lot of cords, so it was quite a productive month altogether, by my standards anyway.

I washed both the latest SKOs, but only one shrank as much as I wanted it to. The second is waiting to revisit the washing machine to see if that improves things.

365 Somethings continues. I’m beginning to get more experimental, both with apps I don’t normally use, and with functions in favourite apps that I’ve not seen the point of before, like circle masking. As you can see…

The delay over finishing the couched cording has meant that I’ve been late starting this months pattern, from the list in Jean Draper’s book Stitch and Pattern. April is ‘packing and cracking’ patterns, which inspired the drawings above, and this, below, from an image of a piece by Draper in the book.

Hers was much more interesting, though this got better with a few beads. (I don’t add beads to everything, honest.)

But I couldn’t think of anything to do next, the cracking and packing just wasn’t inspiring me. When in doubt over creative ideas, I sometimes use an app called Joey’s Oblique Strategies, and it came up with ‘Go to an extreme, come part way back.’

Well, if you’re thinking about cracking, the extreme is probably cracking something, but at first I drew the line at making deliberate cracks in something. Then the chef emptied one of these.

So I hit it with a lump hammer. Several times. It was quite therapeutic. I had a handful of cracked and broken shards of plastic. What to do next?

I have another book by Jean Draper, ‘Stitch and Structure’ in which she describes enclosing scraps of fabric between two layers of stabilizer, before sewing them together. I had to punch holes in the plastic shards before I could sew them together, and layering them in the stabilizer was, shall we say, challenging, but it was done. At the moment it looks like this.

I shall work more lines of stitch vertically and horizontally, knotting them to each other before washing away the stabilizer. I have no idea it it will work, but it is outside my comfort zone, which is a major motivation for this exercise. And it’s used up a bit of stash.

But – when I started thinking about cracking things, the Fates were listening. After I photographed the SKOs, I dropped my phone.

A Week of Two Halves

It started off quietly but reached a non-needlework related crescendo at the end.

We were out quite a lot, which meant I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. This, for example, is taking quite a long time, probably because I’m bored with it.

The shininess is the stabilizer it’s mounted on, the wispy thread is the tacking that’s holding it on there. I’m certain it’s going to go pear shaped when I remove the stabilizer, but I think I might wrap it in copper wire before I do, which might help it stand up for itself. And add a few beads. Possibly even beaded wire.

I was so bored with it, I took time out to do this.

As I suspected, working machine satin stitch on the Kozo was more successful than the hand stitch, and a lot quicker. Then I sewed it to APONGS, with a few beads.

The knitting has pottered along gently, although the cold weather we’ve been having means knitting tightly can be challenging to my arthritic hands.

The smaller one is the one I was working on last week. That’s how big it got before the shrinkable wool ran out. I found some more in a slightly darker shade, which I used for the bigger one. That ran out last night so I shall cast it off tonight, and shrink them next week.

I still have quite a lot of the recycled sweater yarn left, so is time to test some of my other left overs and charity shop purchases to see if they shrink.

And 365 Somethings/100 days continues, because it’s easy to do over coffee. I’m still trying to use colours I don’t like, but it’s really difficult! Brown looks drab and purple looks brash!

The crescendo? There’s some very good news I’m not at liberty to reveal yet. And there was this. Another one. That’s three in three weeks.