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Friday, 15 March 2019

Return of the Wabbitys…

One of my early blog posts was about the Wabbitys. The Wabbitys are a family of knitted creatures that don't require swatching, seaming or blocking. The perfect project for impatient knitters! They are made mainly from remnants of sock yarn, or stash leftover from other projects. What I get from knitting is quite different to what I get from sewing. Knitting is something I do to relax while watching telly (the sound and rhythm of the needles is soothing). I don't examine knitting in the way I do sewing, or have high expectations for the results. I must have been relaxing a lot of late as I've made a heap of Wabbitys, even more than shown below.

This is Lucky Wabbity. He's a mischievous and nosey young thing who eats far too many carrots.

This is Rex, Lucky's eldest brother. Rex is a romantic and always falling in and out of love, usually with totally unsuitable objects of affection.

This is Hopper, she's the baby of the family. Like Lucky, she is inquisitive and can't wait to have adventures of her own.

This is Presto, Lucky's elder sister. Presto is a magician but refuses to teach Lucky how to do magic, as quite rightly, she doesn't trust her little brother to use the power wisely.

This is Mama Wabbity. Mama Wabbity loves to knit and is covered in fluff, which is the telltale sign of all keen knitters. She's not fond of domestic chores such as cooking (fortunately her husband is) Mama Wabbity would much rather be knitting.

This is Grandpa Wabbity. He is very old and doesn't suffer fools. Grandpa Wabbity has terrible table manners and is always burping and making other rude noises.

The Wabbitys have developed into a more standardised shape since they were first made. Now, all Wabbitys have extremely long and strong ears which they use in place of forelegs. Their giant pompom tails help propel them as hind legs would otherwise do. The whiskers have become more of a feature and are used for delicate work such as sewing and making things, and to express emotion. Originally, the Wabbitys just had knitted eyes but I'm toying with the idea of giving them safety ones, however I can't decide which I prefer. The safety eyes certainly make the Wabbitys look more real.* On the other hand (or should that be ear?), knitted eyes are in keeping with the idea that Wabbitys are what become of the abandoned woolly hats, scarves and mittens I see around my local woods and parks. Just recycled wool, with no additional bits of plastic.

What do you think, safety or knitted eyes?


*When I say 'real', I realise Wabbitys are made up things. To think otherwise would be quite mad and suggest I spend too much time alone with my knitting needles.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Mermaids and Dragons…

Hello, it's me. I almost slipped off the blogosphere, but not quite!

One of the reasons I've been so quiet is that I'm writing another book, which means that anything I sew can't be shown. Trust me though, I'm doing a lot of stitching and writing about stitching.

One thing I can show is this.

What do you see, a mermaid or dragon? It was meant to be a mermaid but I got so lost in the detail, and carried away with the needlelace that I neglected to stand back and look at the overall design. (My mermaid's hair took on a life of its own.) I even went to the trouble of mounting the finished piece. It was only when a friend said, 'what a lovely dragon' that the scales fell from my eyes.

This was meant to be a piece for the next book but not any more. To my surprise, I didn't have a hissy fit or bemoan the wasted hours. I just put the thing to one side and started on something else. Quite a result in itself!


Friday, 21 September 2018

Knitting and Stitching show 2018…

Hello, dear, neglected blog. A tiny post just to show I still care.

Once again, I'll be teaching how to make Dorset buttons, and do needle weaving at the K&S show this year. If you have a moment, look at this super-cute animation the promoters have come up with to advertise the event.

Doesn't Sewphia have a fine set of pins!


Monday, 11 June 2018


of the quilting kind!

Last January, I started work on my blue and white quilt. The design was inspired by the Modernist style of house we had moved to, and I wanted the quilt to be something to keep and cherish for ever. It's a rare thing that I'm totally happy with something I've made, so excuse me if I sound big headed, but I loved, loved, loved this quilt when it was finished, just over a month ago. It was the sort of thing I would have coveted had I seen it in someone else's home. My quilt combined all of my favourite things, simple but considered design with a lovely texture created by painstaking hand stitching. It included much treasured fabrics, some of which I'd dyed myself, others that were vintage finds, as well as those that were just right for this quilt. The only thing the quilt needed was a wash…

So I washed it. And the ••!!%%ºº** colours ran! Horribly so. Not just a bit. My almost perfect quilt was a mucky mess of red and blue splodges. Like someone had chucked a pot of paint at it. Was this some kind of karmic rebuke for being too pleased with my efforts?

Any way all I could think about when I pulled it from the washing machine were the wasted hours (hundreds of them!) spent hand quilting. I was beyond disappointed. So much so, that I didn't rant and rave, I just dropped the thing on the floor and walked off. I couldn't bear to look at it. And I certainly didn't want to blog about it.

 A few glasses of wine later, I went back and took another look, it was just as bad as I'd remembered. However, I decided to see if I could salvage the quilt. Eventually, after six sachets of Dr Beckmann's Colour Run Remover, this is the result. There are still splodges but they are not as heartbreakingly bad as before. 

So the quilt is now on the bed, and I'm training our new cat, Calypso (sadly Willow died) to lie on the worst splodges. For a cat, she's amazingly co-operative and very good at covering up the most offensive stains. She also loves having her photo taken, and will roll onto her back at any given opportunity to have her tummy rubbed! She's not fussed who does it, just as long as someone does.

I'm getting used to the quilt now but could kick myself for not thoroughly pre-washing all the fabrics. I pre-washed most of them, but not the vintage kimono silks, which bled terribly, as did the hand-dyed red fabric (although I thought I'd pre-washed it sufficiently).

Clearly not, talk about learning a lesson the hard way!


Thursday, 29 March 2018

Lace for cheats…

I'm not one for anti-macassars, or lavender sachets, but do love a bit of lace. Or more specifically lace patterns and the shadows they cast. I like the mind-bending way it seems you have to think when making lace. You have to consider the holes, or what you're not stitching as much as the stitches themselves, which appeals to my love of negative space!

For ages, I've wanted to delve into the world of lace but have been put off by what is often done with it. I really didn't fancy spending hours/days/weeks… making a crude imitation of something that might look decent on a handkerchief, if done properly, but realistically would end up filed under 'poor first attempt' in my sample book. Besides, who wants to make something for someone to blow their nose on? I'm not ashamed to say, sometimes, I need more instant gratification than traditional lace making methods can provide. I'd also like to produce something a bit unexpected.

So I've been playing around with the idea of lace by combining it with other media such as, papier maché, clay and copper wire in an effort to produce something bolder and more three-dimentional than usually associated with lace. Pressing lace into clay might seem like cheating, as might using ready made paper lace doilies, but doing so gives me a head start. I can then add stitching to what I make, be it fagotting stitch to clay strips, rough needle lace to wire figures, or the holes burnt into a papier maché bowl with a soldering iron. That last one was particularly good fun, nothing beats a bit of controlled destruction!

Next up? Another attempt at a wire figure, this time with a more considered outfit.