Sorry for the lack of blogging, I seem to have spent most of this summer enjoying the sights and sounds of Europe with my family….But there is something quite magical about coming home to all that is familiar and personal.
Perhaps the most personal part of our home for me is my very own room, a beautiful green oak studio we built at the bottom of our garden. My long suffering husband was perhaps hoping all my wool, threads and beads might finally be contained in one space! To a degree he was right, it is such a lovely peaceful and light space that I do spend hours working here but I have to admit that late in the evening part finished projects tend to follow me back into the house.
A leaking bathroom pipe has meant some emergency plumbing, plastering and redecoration over the past week so I have only now found a moment to write about my latest crochet cushion, a deep lavender coloured celebration of the irises in my garden.
Just like the fern cushion I have used the most beautiful Ultra Prima cotton yarn from Cascade and worked in the round using two different coloured strands in double crochet.
The designs are very much like a counted cross stitch pattern, each square on the chart represents a single stitch. The unworked thread is run through the stitch and hidden within the work but always available for when a colour change is needed.
Working in the round means that the pattern is continued on both sides of the cushion and best of all there is only one seam to finish at the end.
I am heading off to catch some sunshine for the next couple of weeks but at least 8 hanks of yarn are going in the suitcase as I have another two cushions designed and they will make the most perfect holiday project.
I really should stick to one type of packaging, but I flip between so many different project ideas that the each requires rethinking. I have customised these cotton tote doggie bags using inkjet transfers and I am rather pleased with how they have turned out….
I just have to finish putting together the contents. The most beautiful fabric, printed with the dog and cat designs, arrived on a couple of very large bolts yesterday morning. I have industrial quantities of needles, beads, embroidery thread and bobble trim.
All I have to do now is finish sewing the samples, photographing, writing and printing the instructions – better get my skates on if they are to be ready for the Knitting & Stitching Shows this autumn!
A brief insight into how I design my little beadwork kits….
The initial design is drafted directly onto the computer. I have lots of source photos and start by trying to get the shape approximately right before thinking about the colours.
The computer is brilliant for very quickly trying ideas. This may sound strange but it is almost like modelling with clay, I can push the pixels around the screen until they are sitting in just the right place.
Once I am fairly happy with the design I will start stitching and this can sometimes be a long process. I have a fairly good idea of which beads will work well together and how to get enough contrast to allow the individual colours to shine out. It also works best if a contrasting thread is used for the background. However, it often takes several attempts before I am happy with my little critters.
For the past couple of days I have been working on a beagle….
He started with quite a shiny brown for his ears and tail which was then swapped to a sandy bead. I’ve also decided against having his tongue hanging out because it made his neck too long.
This morning my dilemma is the front paws…. I cannot decide between brown or sandy so your thoughts would be appreciated!
I have become quite hooked on crochet. It was something I only started last year after watching a YouTube ‘how to’ video and since then I have loved trying to twist the yarn into the shapes I imagine.
This new cushion works well to combine my cross stitch designs and crochet. Double crochet in spirals working with two yarns gives a fantastic intarsia effect AND you don’t have to sew in any loose ends. There is quite a lot of twisting when changing colours but I have discovered that popping each yarn into a separate drawstring bag means you don’t end up with a great tangle of threads.
The yarn is a beautiful silky cotton – Ultra Prima by Cascade
It comes in a range of the most beautiful colours and crochets into a really sturdy textile perfect for cushions and bags that have to stand up to the rigours of family life.
I had better get my fingers twisting that yarn to get the patterns ready!
As a half term treat I took the children into London for the day…..to visit some woolly critters in Brixton. I think my two teenagers were expecting a rather stuffy, old fashioned collection of granny squares and pullovers, but they seemed genuinely impressed by the dinosaurs, tigers and pugs that Louise conjurers from yarn and a pair of knitting needles.
Our trip also took in some fantastic market stalls, street food and a flying visit to the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum so we were all happy.
Oh, I almost forgot, the blue and green swirly pattern shown in my ‘Library Treasure Trove’ post was in the V&A – it was a paper mini dress from the 1960s and still in immaculate condition – quite incredible!
If you would like to take a closer look at these quirky animals then click on the link below and I know Louise would be grateful for your votes in the current Etsy awards.
I have plenty of space for designing and one desk for paperwork…..
But the sewing is slowly creeping across the studio to cover this desk as well. It is no bad thing as I have discovered that a little cross stitching done whilst a file downloads or some printing is reeling off can make for quite a lot of progress by the end of the day. I just have to be careful not to get too carried away and forget to go back to the Excel spreadsheet!
I am rather pleased with my current work in progress. Not my own design but a vintage pattern of Muffin the Mule that I found in a favourite charity shop. At the time I didn’t buy him but having spent the evening regretting this decision I rushed back in the morning and thankfully he was still there, tucked away at the back of a large cardboard box.
The original pattern is dreadful, tiny black and white symbols that make one quite cross-eyed. A little time spent on the computer and I now have a lovely clear colour chart. It has also allowed me to get an idea of how the colours work – so a rather vibrant pink has now been toned down a little.
I am currently stitching Muffin on 12hpi waste canvas over a fine linen, a technique I much prefer to stitching on Aida as it offers an unlimited range of background options.
I have a lot of Photoshop scheduled for the coming week, so it may not be too long before Muffin emerges in his full glory.