Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Gothic Shawl Complete

When a lace shawl comes off the needles, there is a texture given by each set of stitches, which shows up beautifully in the low winter light.  The designer Jane Sowerby was inspired by the arches of Jervaulx Abbey in Yorkshire and Cothele in Cornwall.

Washing and blocking the shawl removes some of the texture.

It takes patience to ensure that the shape is balanced, measuring tape, steel rods and pins help with this , and then there is the day or so when it is drying, where the floor where it is drying is a no go area .  As the sun was bright, I covered the shawl with a sheet, as I was not sure how the yarn would stand up to strong light.  As soon as the shade arrived, the sheet was whipped off.

The shawl is now folded with tissue paper in a box ready to take up to my aunt. There were some tears at first, as half way, I discovered a serious error, and this required me to undo the whole lot, which in itself took over two hours.  I decided that I must start again, or I would falter, and perhaps never start such a project again. 

A second period of worry came towards the end, as I wondered whether there would be sufficient yarn.  This is the first time that I have knitted a shawl starting at the widest, decreasing every other row, till there are only 11 stitches left.  Phew there was sufficient yarn!

The colour very nearly matches that of the unglazed pancheon bottom, it is light and warm, and is probably the best item I have knitted.  Its taken just nearly two months to complete, with at least two hours each day.  There were many batches of dough rising in the pancheon during my knitting, and now I also have one friend who lives just round the corner who comes to collect a small loaf each time I bake!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dragon Fruit

This week at the market I spied an unusual fruit.  I had seen them before, but when my friendly market holder offered me a slice, and having tasted the fresh taste, not sharp, not sour, not really sweet, but just refreshing,  I thought why not....sitting in the conservatory, with a white frost, low sun, what can be more exotic looking.....  I've looked up the details and seen the sort of cactus/succulent type plant it grows on,  but it was just the perfect juxtaposition of colour and texture which makes buying a Dragon Fruit worth while.

New venture at the start of the Year

On my birthday, Mr S and I set out for Coventry, for a little walk around the Herbert Art Gallery Museum and a spot of lunch.  In one of the galleries we came across a delightful exhibition of textiles & paintings by Michala Gyetvai.  Without having read much, we instantly recognised that she gained much of her inspiration from the walks we loved in and around Kenilworth, which indeed she does as is explained in the supporting literature.  I loved her work, the colours she used, and the emotion captured in the work.

When Mr S pointed out to me that there was a workshop associated with the exhibition, I went to enquire, and was asked if I would like to be on a reserve list as all places had already been taken.  A few days before the first of the two workshops, I had a call to say there was now a vacancy.  I was so excited, and this would really make me use my sewing machine...

We spent the first part of the morning, exploring how artists capture the essence of the landscape, its very varied interpretations, and how to start to design on paper....the only item we had to take was a sketch pad.....mine was quite empty and new.  This would be the first time since I was a small girl that I would draw.  With hits and tips about colour and perspective, I took as inspiration a picture of Prince Charles garden with trees and tulips, which I had taken from a gardening magazine, and made up a sketch which we shall use as a basis for our work on the second workshop.

After a delicious lunch in the Museum  we went on to explore felting onto old dyed blankets, with additional hand stitching.  Michala explained her love of threads and how different types: woolly ones, shiny ones, etc could be used to excellent effect in different areas. 

Some sewing machine free stitching techniques were demonstrated, and each of our machines in turn examined and checked.  Its taken me a few days, and a call to the Singer Helpline to work through some issues that I had so I shall be ready to try new things.

Doing the sketching has made me really look carefully at pictures and scenes I like, and I am trying to understand what it is that pleases me, and how to capture this on paper...at least when Mr S and I went for a walk last Sunday I took a few more landscape pictures.

It was perhaps coincidental that last week's Radio Times had some iPad drawings by David Hockney which also really appealed to me.  Another new venture in the planning is a trip up to London to meet up with a dear friend and spend some time together at David Hockney's exhibition at the Royal Academy

Another year gone

The end of the year got me thinking....but then one of the nicest things for me was spending Christmas day with family.  Who knows what will happen next year, let us all take up something new, even if it is a taster, get in touch with old friends, and make new ones, and continue to cherish those whom we come across regularly.