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Author: Leonor

Textile artist, indie dyer, conjurer of fluff.
A little bit of knitting here and there

A little bit of knitting here and there

There’s been a bit of knitting going on lately around here. After months of no mojo, I was suddenly struck by the need to make all the things.

In my last blog post, I shared a link to my own blog (thank you to all those who went and left me a comment!) There was a photo of my cat Marshmallow sat on top of a yellow knitted work-in-progress in that post. I’m happy to say I’ve finished that jumper well before the colder weather hit! I finished it, in fact, in July.

I’m a weirdo who enjoys knitting things out of season, it seems.

Mohair Gallant Sweater, a yellow mohair and silk jumper on a mannequin.
Mohair Gallant Sweater

Next, I was smitten by a very goth-y jumper. It had little bird skulls all around it, and that was enough motivation for me to tackle stranded knit work.

I didn’t make a good start, though. I’m not used to reading charts and left a lot of stitches behind. It was too small, something I found out soon after taking this photo below. And look, the poor birds look like pineapples with eyes.

Dead of Night jumper beginning knitting on Eleanor's neck

My second attempt was much more successful… but it’s too big! There is no way I’ll be frogging this and starting over, so I’ll either be able to shrink it in the dryer after blocking, or I’ll have to gift it to a friend and knit another one for myself (gasp!)

Eleanor wears her unfinished Dead of Night jumper and shows how large it is in the body for her.
Dead of Night

Lastly, I knit something I had never tried before – a child sized garment! A friend of mine commented she had so much knitting to get done before Christmas and was a little worried she might not finish in time, so I offered to help. This is the First Leaf Jacket and it was an easy enough pattern to follow, albeit a little annoying in the purl rows.

I’ve since found out my friend has knitted the jumper version of this – she gave me jacket pattern because it was the one with the most purling, the rascal! I shall have to take revenge… maybe in the form of keeping the leftover yarn for myself.

First Leaf Jacket unfinished, as a flat lay, with the pattern and the gauge swatch next to it

First Leaf Jacket, pattern by Drops, not blocked, on mannequin

The ends still need weaving in, the buttons sewed on and it has to be blocked, but on my part it’s finished.

Finally, my favourite knit of last year. It needs to be shared because it’s too cute! I’ll confess I’m not 100% sure it hasn’t been shared by me already in the past, but Mason deserves the spotlight. Just look at that face.

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted teddy bear, face detail

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted bear, wearing yellow overalls and a neckerchief

That’s it from me in the realm of knitting. In the realm of blog posts however, I’m happy to tell you I’ve written a new one on dryer balls and why they are amazing. If you’d honour me with a read, I’d be deeply grateful.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite make of the year is so far, I’d love to know!

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

The last time I wrote, I had begun washing a lovely Leicester Longwool fleece from a sheep named Muriel. I’m done with the washing now, so it’s time to continue processing those luscious curls.

Some lovely washed wool curls still in fleece format, on a table

Since I mostly have these curls for selling, they need to be bunched into bundles. I like to do 1oz. (or around 30g) because it’s not too large, making it affordable, and it’s a great size for those who want to use these curls as doll hair.

Leicester Longwool sheep curls sectioned into bundles, on a table

Once I’ve created the bundles, some of them are sold in natural wool form, but others are hand dyed into funky colours. It’s so much fun playing with all the bright colour combos, because you can really let your imagination go wild – a lot of people who wouldn’t imagine having rainbow hair themselves love nothing more than to do that to their dolls.

How about using curls for long tail spinning? Felting? The choices are so many and each will yield their own beautiful results.

hand dyed teal Leicester Longwool locks

I for one hope I’ve done Muriel proud with processing her fleece, and love the idea that she grew the fibre, I processed it and then I’ll be passing it on to someone who will, yet again, change it into something else. The cycle of creativity at work!

Have you done anything with long wools lately? Let me know.

PS – I’ve finally started a blog in my own website! In my first post, I explain the 5 reasons why wool is the best fibre (preaching to the choir here, I know…) If you’d pop by to have a read, I’d really appreciate it 🙂

Wash a fleece with me

Wash a fleece with me

***This post should have been published yesterday but somehow the scheduling didn’t go through, apologies for the delay!***

The days are so much longer here in Scotland. When blessed with sunshine (which happens more than you’d think), this is the perfect time of year to wash fleeces.

I recently bought a Leicester Longwool fleece from a small farm that specialises in conservation of this rare breed. I’d bought from them before, so I knew I’d be happy with my purchase.

Now, for those of you who live in a house with a garden, washing raw fleeces might not be a somewhat mammoth task, but I currently live in a flat. Some creativity was in order.

I’m lucky enough to have a very generously sized kitchen, which is where the beginning of the processing begun.

part of a shower curtain is laid on the floor

I laid down this piece of shower curtain on the floor (it’s a leftover from my dyeing setup, I used the rest to protect the wall when working). I can already tell you I was naive and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

a bag with a fleece in it, with Muriel written on the outside

Here is the fleece, ready to come out and play. Muriel is the lovely sheep who grew the wool, she was so named because she mewed more than baah-ed 🙂
This fleece is around 6.5kg. You can already see where I was getting at when I said I was naive, don’t you?

Muriel's fleece is on the floor, ready to be unrolled

The owner of this flock was kind enough to send me some very good written instructions on how the fleece was rolled, and how best to unroll and wash it.

Leicester Longwool fleece on the floor, with human foot nearby for size comparison

If you’re laughing at my tiny plastic protection right now, I don’t blame you. I laughed too! I photographed my foot so you could have an idea of scale. Oh boy.

Time to sort the fleece according to body areas and discard the bits I didn’t want, which in the case of this particular fleece wasn’t much.
Sorting the fleece this way helps me know which parts will be more useful for different purposes. The wool on the back of the sheep (which you can see in the middle) will have better curl definition, and the bits near the rear end will be coarser and less curly. There’s a use for each part, but I want it separated so I can work quickly once it’s all washed.

I must give credit to the shearer, he did a stellar job. I had hardly any second cuts (tiny bits of wool you get from when the shearing machine goes through the sheep a second time, to even the “haircut” out). This person was definitely removing the fleece knowing it was to be used by a crafter, which I greatly appreciated.

closeup of the fleece with very dirty tips and extremely white cut ends

Have you ever wondered about how dramatic a Before and After can be in washing fleece? Here’s your answer. The end bits have been subjected to the elements, the part nearer the animal is pristine. Once I’m done, I hope it’ll look mostly like the white bits.

Next, I carefully roll up the fleece into sections to soak.

a rolled up section of fleece, ready to be soaked

What one does next with a fleece depends on personal preference. I like to soak it in cold water and change the water often, until most of the lanolin (the natural oils the sheep produces to protect its coat) is washed off. Once that’s done, I use very hot water a few times, and then add detergent to it. Once the water comes out mostly clear, I’m done. All that’s left is to rinse it, lay it flat to dry and then play with the lovely curls.

two fleeces soaking, one dirty and the other almost clean

Notice the huge difference! The one on the right already has some detergent in it, the left doesn’t as it still needs a few more cold water soaks.

I’m sure some readers will be worried about processing a fleece indoors. Allow me to share what I did to stay safe and clean:

  • Firstly, I purchased the fleece from a trusted high-welfare farm, which means the sheep are kept happy and are constantly monitored for health issues (thus ensuring the wool isn’t contaminated with pests or other nasties)
  • The fleece was always handled with gloved hands and I never touched other surfaces whilst doing so.
  • I never ate or drank whilst processing the fleece
  • Once I was done separating it into sections, they went into plastic bags and all surfaces were thoroughly washed, even the ones that the wool never touched, such as counters
  • The bathtub was thoroughly washed and sanitised before being used by humans
  • (Finally: if you have pets, make sure they stay away from raw wool! My cats are abnormalities and didn’t care one bit for it, so they stayed away on their own.)

On my next blog post, I’ll share how the fleece came out once dry and the locks separated.

Have you ever washed a fleece? How did your experience compare to mine? Let me know in the comments.

Crafting diary – organising your makes for the future

Crafting diary – organising your makes for the future

If you know me at all, you’ll very quickly realise I’m not a particularly tidy person. I seem to make my studio messy simply by looking at it, so for me to be writing about organisation is very funny.

After the holiday season, I normally feel a lack of energy and creativity; I just want to burrow in my duvet, forget the world exists, and survive on tea, books and naps (plus chocolate). I call it Wintering, and this year was no exception.

If the body is sluggish, the brain sometimes has ideas, however. I’d been wanting to keep track of my sewing projects for a while. A sort of diary, if you will, where I could look back and see what I’d made, how I made it and my thoughts of the process.

What do you know, I actually found the energy to start it and I’m here to share some pages with you. Maybe this will inspire you to do the same for your crafting of choice (or maybe you already do?)

An open page from a sewing diary on a desk, with some decorative items around it.

I’d been saving fabric samples for a diary, which I kept in a neat pile, edges pinked to avoid fraying. I’m surprised I never lost them or forgot what the fabrics had been turned into!

Each project has its own page entry. The one above is for my first Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. I start out by writing down who I made the item for, what type of fabric I used, where I bought it, etc. As I progress with this I’m sure I’ll come up with more useful information to add.

Another page of the sewing diary, with fabric samples and a drawing of the project I created

Here is Metamorphic Dress number two. I just had to share this because the fabric is one of my favourites of all time. If you read the note in the lower right, you’ll notice a comment about my mother ruining the dress for me by pointing out it looked like a servant’s uniform. (It does. Don’t tell her I agree. I still like it!)

This type of diary is meant to jog your memory in the future, if you ever want to know when you made something, or what could be changed should you ever decide to revisit the same pattern. I actually have a little detail to add to this particular one to improve fit in the future…

Two photos of a yellow Kochi jacket on a sewing diary page

I also decided to print a few images so anyone else who looks at the diary can have an idea of what I’m talking about (I might also forget in the future so this is also for me). This page says I made a Kochi Jacket (now renamed Luna) by Papercut Patterns but that won’t help if you don’t know what it is, right?

A photo of two women wearing the same model of Arthur Pants, next to a printed drawing of Rupert Bear

Saved the best for last. For Christmas my mum wanted a pair of Arthur Pants. She bought the fabric in Portugal and what do you know? It was the same as mine! She thought it was hilarious.
We got told our outfit was reminiscent of Rupert Bear… I had no idea who Rupert was, but now I do, I want to make a scarf out of the remaining yellow fabric for an extra laugh.

Do you keep a crafting diary? What do you include in it? Any suggestions on how I can improve mine? Let me know in the comments section.

A bit of this and that

A bit of this and that

‘Tis the season to show off trees! I’m no exception, so here is my contribution.

A few years ago I had the idea of creating a portable Christmas decoration to sell in my shop. I wanted something small, cute and as eco-friendly as possible. The solution? Needle felted mini trees.

The trees

Needle felted miniature Christmas trees by Eleanor Shadow

I think they’re rather fun, even if I do say so myself. The colours are bright and who doesn’t like miniatures?

Each tree has a wire frame to ensure stability. I needle felt the the larger components (tree trunk, copse and base) around the wire and the rest is made separately and stitched onto the main part.

It’s quite fun to felt the baubles, I used to take small amounts of differently coloured wool with me to doctor appointments and such and, whilst waiting, I could get 4-5 balls created. It was also a great conversation starter.

To finish things off nicely, I glue the whole ensemble onto a sturdy piece of locally sourced wool disc and, as they say, Bob’s you uncle.

They’ve been quite the success this year, I’m down to the last one at the time of writing!

Wreathes

Another holiday idea was to create a wreath that could be used over and over again. Have I mentioned I like reusable, eco-friendly things? 🙂

I had some needle felting foam that I regretted buying. It wasn’t the best quality foam and I found out I hated using them, so they’d been languishing in my stash for a couple of years. I didn’t want to throw it away. One day it dawned on me: I could cut and use them for something else.

Needle felted Christmas wreath by Eleanor Shadow. It has a donut shape with felted balls and a red ribbon wrapped around it. It has a green ribbon bow at the top.

I love these wreathes and each year I look forward to hanging mine in my front door. They’re not huge because I had to take the foam’s original size into consideration but isn’t it cute?

Sewing

It wouldn’t be a post written by me without some sewing fun. I felt brave and bought some jersey knit fabric to make a Stasia dress by Sew Liberated. You might know a lot of sewers avoid jersey due to its stretchy nature. My previous experience hadn’t been the best but this time I was determined to succeed.

Fun fact: despite my determination, for some reason I didn’t make a mock version of the dress beforehand. I just moved on ahead directly to cutting the good fabric!

The consequence of this is that my sleeves ended up a bit shorter than I’d wanted, so I think I’m going to cut them and create a ¾ sleeve instead.

Eleanor Shadow shows off her Stasia dress in yellow jersey fabric.

Can you tell I’m so happy with the result? The black dots and stripes on the fabric are just so cute to me. My poor mother still wonders how I ended up going from wearing just black to being obsessed with mustard yellow, but here we are.

Yellow Stasia dress. Pattern by Sew Liberated, made by Eleanor Shadow.

That’s it for today. Can you believe it’s already December? This is my last post for the year, so I wish you a great New Year, filled with fibre and other fun stuff. See you in 2022.

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.

 


 

Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…

 


 

That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a pair of English wool combs. They were sold out at the time but the people in the shop were kind enough to allow me to backorder. Now all I had to do was wait a few days and let the spiky goodness arrive at my doorstep!

Finally, they were here.

 

Leonor of Eleanor Shadow holds a pair of English combs and looks chuffed

 

It occurs to me that these would make great Wolverine claws for Halloween, were I in the mood to risk self-injury… Seriously, despite knowing these are pointy, sharp objects, it still surprised me to find out exactly how sharp they were in a slight moment of distraction. Note to self: don’t daydream when handling wool combs.

If you’re not sure what wool combs are for, these brilliant tools are used to process fleeces for spinning. They work by separating, aligning and combing the wool locks, whilst also getting rid of any vegetable matter (VM). The end result is a fluffy and lovely cloud that you’re supposed to carefully diz off the combs, ending up with a longish sort of roving.

 

Texel cross wool locks on English combs, ready for processing

 

Ideally, you’ll place the locks facing the same direction, which in my case was cut side nearest the tines, ends on the outside.
These are lovely locks from a Texel cross lamb’s first shear’s fleece. I washed it myself. They’re so soft and all I want to do is bury my face in them.. (which I definitely have. Don’t judge.)

 

Eleanor Shadow uses English wool combs to process some wool locks

 

Next, you carefully start teasing the tips of the locks apart with the other comb, which will transfer a bit of fibre to said comb at each pass. As you keep doing this, the longer staples of wool will move and the shortest bits will remain on the clamped comb. You’re meant to discard these short bits, but I keep them to make dryer balls.

 

English wool combs processing wool on a table

A hand showing wool waste after using English wool combs

 

You can see above that the fibre left behind retains some VM. I don’t mind it because it’s clean, and won’t be seen once the dryer balls are covered in commercially processed wool top. Waste not, want not.

You will do this transferring of fibre from one comb to the other until you’re happy with how the wool looks. The one below was on the third pass.

 

Side view of wool on English wool combs, after processing

 

There was still a tiny bit of VM but I don’t mind.

Since I wasn’t planning on spinning this wool, I didn’t diz it off the comb, I simply pulled it all off  together very gently, so it all came off at the same time.
After 30 minutes I had a few clouds.

 

A few soft clouds of processed wool on a table

 

I’ll be gathering a lot of this fluff into a bag and, once I have enough, I’ll card it on my drum carder and make batts to sell to spinners and felters. Lamb wool really is like a cloud and I’m loving playing with it.

To end this post in my usual tradition, here’s a completely unrelated photo I took a few days ago that I find amusing. This was on a building I happened to pass by here in Edinburgh.

Plaque on a wall saying On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened

So, what’s your current favourite fibre utensil?

Sewing a pair of trousers

Sewing a pair of trousers

Lately, I’ve been keen on the idea of creating some staple wardrobe pieces to replace some older garments (*cough cough, Pandemic Body is larger*) and maybe have a go at creating a Capsule Wardrobe. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s when you have only a limited number of garments that you can mix and match to create new styles. The operative word here is “limited,” since the idea is to only have clothes you’ll wear and not clutter your wardrobe.

Enter the Arthur Pants by Sew Liberated. They are a wide, lose-fitting sort of trousers, very comfortable. I wanted to have pieces I could wear at home but still look good in outdoors. I’m a fiend for grabbing my pyjama bottoms when at home, but this hinders how quickly I can just nip out to the Post Office!

Whenever I sew a garment, I always like to create a mock-up to see about fit. If you sew, you’ll know pattern sizes don’t always conform to your own body and tweaks might be necessary. A mock-up helps me familiarise with the techniques the pattern requires, and I can see if I like how I look before cutting into the nice fabric.

Bathroom picture glamour

After creating the mock-up, I went on Instagram to ask for opinions. As you can see, not everyone was keen on the style! That’s exactly the type of honesty I was looking for. You see, I wasn’t too sure about the width myself, and having someone else confirm this for me really helped.

I tweaked the mock-up to make it smaller and, happy with the results, saw that I needed to change the sizing on the pattern to fit my needs.

I usually keep the original pattern with all the measurements and simply copy my size to use. This means I’ll be able to sew this for someone else in the future without having to reprint. The pattern piece on the left is the original one, the transparent ones are what I’ll be using. I had to shorten the legs (by folding) because this was meant for 5’7″ people, which is definitely not me – on the wonderful side, the pattern called for at least 3 meters of fabric and I only needed 2, with enough to spare.

Time to cut the fabric. Here you’ll see Marshmallow being “helpful.” It’s definitely true that if you leave a piece of paper in a stadium floor, eventually a cat will sit on it.

I was already familiar with what I needed to do, so the sewing should be smooth sailing. I hoped.

I did make a couple of mistakes, but nothing very serious. At some point, the pieces of fabric did start to look like trousers indeed.

I got pleats, I got a zipper, I got pockets – I’m very proud of myself.

Finally, I needed buttons. I narrowed it down to two styles and my other half made the final decision: the left one.

Of course the buttonhole foot on my machine worked splendidly when I tested it, only to turn demonic with the proper fabric. Luckily nothing got damaged or I’d have had a breakdown. I was almost done…

Ignore the weird background on the left, I tried to remove shoes with an app and it went wonky.

Voilá, a pair of comfortable trousers! I’m so happy with them, I’ve already started another pair in yellow linen.

So there you go, my first ever journey into making trousers, adding a zipper and pockets. Nothing exploded, my mental health is seemingly intact, so I guess all is well.

Finally, just for Ann, I have a photo of some cheese scones I ate a few days ago, because we had a chat about the difference between English and American scones 🙂 Yes, they were delicious.

Have you sewed anything lately? Share what you made in the comments section, I’m always keen to talk shop. Have a great week.

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Usually, when we share work with others, we tend to show the things that we’re proud of, or very happy with. Seldom do we talk about what didn’t go well. Today I’m doing just that (again! Remember my waistcoat? It’s still lingering in my Unfinished pile). Get ready for a couple of mistakes and some possible solutions, maybe…

One: The mannequin

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a website that creates a personalised sewing pattern to make a mannequin after your own body measurements. Since the one I had at the time wasn’t true to my figure, I went ahead and splurged on this.

I sewed the thing and followed the instructions. I was very excited! A true-to-form mannequin would mean I could make sure my patterns would fit me perfectly. In theory, at least.
Well… I stuffed it. Literally and figuratively! I had to add stuffing to the thing, and discovered there’s an art to adding fluff and moulding a 3D object in order for it to conform to what you want. Let’s just say my efforts were less than stellar. Attest for yourself!

Not to put a too fine point over the issue, but I’m really not that er, wavy? I think I made a couple of sewing mistakes (note the lower belly, there’s definitely a stitch or two that’s bunched up), but my capital crime was definitely not stuffing the mannequin as instructed, which was to add little bits of fluff at a time. I should know better.
Also, there’s another *ahem* area that definitely didn’t get stuffed as needed, don’t ask me why. That pair would not get a job in a Las Vegas show…

The solution

I can either remove all the stuffing and do it all over again, or I can admit defeat and start another mannequin and also correct the sewing mistakes. Removing the stuffing will be an interesting feat, I have this nightmarish idea that it’ll all bounce back in my face and I’ll drown in fluff.

Which one do you vote for: redoing it or re-stuffing it?

Two: The knitted jumper

Remember the cardigan I knit a while back, and hand dyed afterwards? (Sorry for the lack of link, I couldn’t find it). I had liked the pattern so much, I made a few more, then decided to adapt it to create a jumper (that’s a “sweater” for you American folk, although I promise I don’t intend to do much sweating in it! Then again, I don’t intend to do much jumping either.)

Well… I’m a huge proponent of test swatching everything beforehand to make sure it fit, but I’d knit this before in another format, how much different could this new version be? Turns out, quite a bit.

Even though we know the mannequin didn’t quite come out as expected, the measurements are quite correct. See all that extra “fabric” in the chest area? It’s like that on both sides. Argh.

The solution

I can’t really take this apart and re-knit it. Let me rephrase that: because I don’t want to lose the will to live, I’m not going to take this apart and re-knit it. What I can do, however, is take the excess volume away by either steeking (a technique that involves cutting the yarn and putting it back together, it’s very nerve racking!) or I can go the easier way and, using the sewing machine, simply sew it tighter on both sides.

Steeking would afford me the opportunity to learn a new-to-me technique, but it could go horribly wrong and I’d end up with no jumper and a lot of grief. Sewing it would definitely work, but you’d see a line on the upper sides that might look a bit terrible.
Which would you choose?

Three: the shawl

Finally, my favourite. This shawl was hand knit during a couple of weeks and I love it. This was a commission, so it’ll be heading off to its new home soon.

If you think beading a shawl is hard work, you’re absolutely right! The edging you see here, with those cute little scallops, was also a very time-consuming affair. The end result is glorious, though.

The problem and the solution

The problem I had with it was, I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice until I was all done binding off, washing and blocking it! Facepalm moment.
I immediately put a stitch marker to stop it unravelling and promptly went to work to fix this mistake.

I put the stitch marker over the stitches the dropped one should have connected with so I didn’t lose my place. I then took out my crochet hook and went to work.

After I got the stitches together correctly, I added a tiny string of the same yarn to close it off. I’m sure there are “better” ways to do this out there, but this worked for me. Once I was done, I don’t think you can see where the dropped stitch was. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Here is this beauty in all its glory, ready to become an heirloom in another country very soon.

There you have it, the ups and downs of a maker. I hope you enjoyed going through these with me, and thank you in advance for your suggestions on what to do with the first two.

As ever, here’s a photo of a cute feline to finish the post. Marshmallow was looking all regal and dainty whilst enjoying the sun, but of course once I pointed the camera this happened…

“The paparazzi never leave me alone!”

Enjoy your weekend, and “see” you in my next blog post!

Needle felting a toadstool

Needle felting a toadstool

Is it too late to wish you all a Happy New Year?

I haven’t properly picked up my felting needles in quite some time. I can’t tell you why, but my mind just hasn’t been “in the right place” to make anything particularly unique.

Things changed when I got commissioned to make a mushroom sculpture. It was just simple yet challenging enough for me to see if this would finally open those creative doors. The client wanted something similar to what I’d made before, so all I had to do was look at an old photo and start felting. I’m not copying something that needs to look exactly like something else, but it’s also not mindless felting. Perfect.

This is the old mushroom she saw in my online shop and wanted another of (sorry the resolution isn’t the best):

I really enjoy looking at past work because I’m often surprised at the fact this is mine. Do you get that feeling with things you created a long time ago? I am particularly chuffed when I get that “oh, that’s pretty” feeling before it registers it came from my brain.

Now, for the new sculpture. I gave my client a few fabrics to choose from, but she went for the same as the first one. Not surprising, as she really liked the original item and was very motivated to have a mushroom like it.

I started with wire wrapped in wool to make the stem. The top was created with leftover wool felted into shape, then I sewed the fabric to the top and some tea-stained gauze to the bottom.

The base looks very messy, so I’ll be adding some wool to cover it.

Then comes the fun part: assembly!

I chose some hand dyed mohair locks, plus some natural Wensleydale ones and put it all together. After that, I sewed the beads and stones here and there. Here’s the finished item:

The finished object is just different enough for me not to feel I made a complete copy, and the familiarity helped make the felting process easy enough for my Lockdown Brain to not feel too flustered.

Finally, not related at all, but here’s a photo of a lovely Edinburgh sunset for your enjoyment.

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for reading!

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