I’ve been at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate today.
As I’m not particularly one for just browsing shops (especially at the moment) or just wandering aimlessly, my main focus has been on the workshops. I did four today and have another four lined up for my return visit on Sunday.
Today I did: the Shibori Blues (indigo/cloth resist dyeing), Intro to Crewel Embroidery, Japanese Embroidery & Embellishing Quilts. They were all interesting but were rushed trying to fit everything into an hour. Embellishing Quilts was the one I was least excited about going into it but I think has been the most valuable (since I want to start quilting); the Japanese Embroidery had the steepest learning curve (having to twist our own threads from the thinnest silk!). Shibori Blues & Crewel Embroidery largely went over things I’ve done before (the former on a general natural dyeing course in February, the latter from a kit I did around the same time) but the latter especially was useful because I had a chance to ask questions about refining my techniques etc.
As well as the subject specific things I learnt in the sessions, I also picked up a lot of general stitching/quilting/misc hints and tips. Some of them may be obvious but they’re new to me. I thought I’d post them here in case they’re new to you too – and to remind me of them, because I’ve not exactly got a lot of processing/practising time these next few days (normal sewing class tomorrow, a comic con on Saturday then back to Harrogate on Sunday – and a novel to finish, as well as everything else that needs doing as usual!).
- If you can’t thread a needle, try approaching the hole from the other side – the eyes are punched out so the hole on one side is usually bigger than the other. (This is not a trick I need as being able to thread needles is one of my superpowers. I am Needle Threading Girl!)
- Don’t lick thread to seal the ends to thread it through the needle’s eye – it apparently swells the fibres
- Use self-threading needles for sewing in the tiny ends – this was an in-passing tip so I didn’t get all the details but I think it would be useful for sewing in the ends of crochet motifs, maybe?
- The waste knot method is the best way to start (crewel) embroidery – though it takes some mental rewiring!
- Start the waste knot method about a centimetre along the stitch line (for line work) so the anchor stitches will be hidden – the waste knot can be anywhere in the same colour space for space work
- Wrap embroidery hoops (both the inner and outer) with bias binding tape or strips of calico to improve the grip – it means you don’t have to over-tighten the hoop and does less damage to the fabric
- Take shower caps from hotels to protect embroidery work – didn’t quite hear the start of this so not sure if it was just while travelling or during reworking…?
- Shower caps are also good for swimming costumes post-pool – rather than wrapping the costume in a towel
- Long and short stitch in crewel embroidery should really be called Long and Longer Stitch – I asked how to make it look good and the simple answer was ‘practise’. The longer answer was:
- Don’t work in just one area at a time when doing long & short stitch – working across the whole area to be filled, sew in the (first round) long stitches to give you an idea of shape/angle before starting on the shorter stitches. Also don’t be afraid to mark the fabric first to plan where they’re going to go.
- Practise was the main repeated advice throughout the three sewing-y workshops – I think of the kits I do as practise/learning new techniques but I think there is a lot of value in doing very small pieces (max 6×4/10cmx15cm) that are nothing more than doodles.
- There is not enough time between Knit & Stitch workshops to either get a cup of tea or eat sandwiches – I thought there was time for tea but there was not and I was late. Plan accordingly!
- Carbon paper is much more effective for image transfer than I thought it would be – I really should try more image transfer stuff
- Everyone tells me Colonial Knots are better than French ones – not sure why yet, will check it out!
- Lakeland do rubber gloves with a cuff at the wrist end – useful for dyers etc – stops the liquid from the hands running up your sleeve
- I saw several examples of quilting/stitching with the design in negative space – just something I hadn’t thought of doing before and something I want to try now.
- Ribbon flowers – do a running stitch along the top of the ribbon (rather than the middle) – they’re easier and more ribbon efficient
- Use a darning foot for machine quilting – can’t remember why, was just told that by someone from a Quilters’ organisation so I believe them ;)
- Use deliberately different shapes/lines for crazy patchworking – just easier!
- Iron-on wadding is good for quilting beginners – one less thing to worry about – it isn’t good for blanket quilts (it’s too stiff) but it’s fine for small decorative pieces/wall hangings
- Iron-on wadding needs to be bubble side up – that’s the glue side
- Make sure all the iron-on wadding is covered before you iron it – the glue will melt and will NOT come off the iron
- Don’t use plastic headed pins for quilting – they melt when you iron over them
- Use a piece of velvet as a mat while doing (seed) beadwork – it makes the beads easier to pick up and stops them rolling about too
Think that’s it – though I’m sure to learn more random stuff on Sunday! (If anyone else will be there on Sunday, I’m doing the Silk & Spindle workshop, then ribbon embroidery, pieced patchwork bowl and Japanese padded fabric pictures, and I might try to fit in a little drop-in batik as well. Basically, I’ll be in Hall E!)
Do you have any favourite stitching tips?
Well, it’s not no spend because I still need to buy food for us (and the animals), and to pay for transport and stuff related to things I’ve already committed to (a gig and some courses), but “no more frivolous spending November” wasn’t quite so catchy ;)
I’ve not been going crazy with my spending but over the last few months, I’ve bought some (mostly charity shop/ebay-ed) clothes when I’ve not really needed them and have indulged a little too much in craft tools & supplies and books – and that all adds up. I thought it might be nice to pull back a bit and try to reset my spending gland.
If I have to buy something, I will but I’m doing a few things to hopefully make the whole “no spend” thing as painfree as possible.
Firstly, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year – NaNoWriMo has a habit of distracting me from everything else in my life, so I have less idle eBay/Ravelry/Pinterest browsing time. It also means I craft and read less so should not be quite so tempted to start new projects, or discover new books that I MUST READ NOW.
Speaking of those books, I’m going to remove my credit card from Paypal and Amazon again. They’re weak spots for me – with a saved credit card on file, it’s all too easy to buy inconsequential stuff – a £2 book or some sewing trimmings – without much thought. I need to stop that.
Next, I’m also going to take the opportunity to unsubscribe from a few of those ever-so-tempting shop newsletters before they begin their Christmas/New Year Sales onslaughts. I’ve already unsubscribed from a couple of email circulars but I definitely should unsubscribe from the handful of paper ones I receive as well.
Finally, I’m going to go out without my purse more often – just take the money I need for bus fare. I’ve started doing that when I go swimming – just taking my pre-paid card and £1 for my locker deposit, and it’s removed the temptation to go to the supermarket on the way home for a sweet reward. I think I might do the same for my weekly classes too, to remove the temptation of popping into charity shops while I’m nearby (mmm, nearby charity shops).
So that’s the plan – we’re seven days in of course, but I’ve stuck to it so far. Hope I can stick it out for the whole month!
Have you had any periods of deliberately not spending recently? Do you have any more tips to avoid temptation?
(I wrote this last month but for some reason it didn’t get published – I only noticed when I came to tick stuff off — I’ve actually been powering through it compared to my normal slow productivity speed!)
Every year for the last few years, I’ve written myself a “preparing for winter” list for all those jobs that have to be done before the weather turns for the worst. I’m glad I can say I’ve FINALLY finished all the ones on my 2010 and 2011 lists now – well, except for the things that need doing again — it’s only taken me two or three winters!
The garden ones are similar to previous years – the routine stuff – though an afternoon in the garden last week has already ticked off some of the usual low hanging fruit (eg, tie up the low hanging fruit bushes!).
1. Tidy up the greenhouse & take any remaining tender plants into house for overwintering – I don’t think there is anything too tender in there but I’ll check.
2. Pop all terracotta containers or plastic ones holding delicate herbs into the greenhouse (and fleece if necessary) – this is a bigger job than in previous years as I bought lots of terracotta pots in the spring.
3. Add extra chippings to chicken run – John’s dad brought a load of chippings a few weeks ago but I’ll top them up again this month. Will hopefully stop it getting too muddy and/or freezing quite so solidly.
4. Sort out the wood pile, cut more “easy grab” logs & fill kindling bins inside and out – I’m out of my Sunday morning routine of clearing out the chicken coop and chopping the week’s kindling. I need to get back into that but a kindling buffer would be good too. We also need to shuffle our logs between the different stores – some of the ones further down in the garden should be seasoned enough now to come to the near the house store. (30/10/13 -Kindling bins are full for now, and we have quite a few “easy grab” logs – just need to keep the piles stocked up.)
5. Arrange for the tree surgeon to come over – we need to trim/cut down some trees but it isn’t safe for us to do it all by ourselves. We’ll do some and he can do the rest.
1. Fix cat flap in the kitchen so it isn’t so draughty – the magnet that holds the flap shut has gone. Should be fixable.
2. Fix the downstairs stove – a John job rather than one for me — something needs fire cementing again. We should also replace the cracked firebrick in the upstairs stove too. (30/10/13 – John has fixed the downstairs stove. Still need a new firebrick for upstairs though.)
3. Clean out gutters at front – after the leaves fall.
4. Wash the thicker, winter duvet – I really wish I’d thought to do this over summer but even the washing involves a trip to the laundrette and summer was rather chaotic. (30/10/13 – a kitten “accident” ensured this happened at the start of October. I washed the thin summer duvet at the same time.)
4b. Re-sew feather pockets as necessary – the feathers have been migrating through holes between the pockets.
5. Move more fragile plants out of the porch – and I guess, ditch the dying annuals from the herb shelf.
I’m pretty well kitted out for winter this year – last year I got a new everyday winter coat, fab new winter boots, and lots of warm socks — in fact, I can’t wait for winter in that respect!
1. New wellies for me – I’ve worn my wellies just about every day for three years now and they’re beginning to show their age – worn soles and inners, and a hole in the shoe part. They’ll be fine for pottering but I’d prefer a new pair for dog walking etc. (30/10/13 – after discovering three new holes when I wandered into the sea at Ainsdale/Southport a couple of weeks ago, I finally got my act together and got my new boots last week.)
2. Scarf (and mittens? and hat?) for John – he has reappropriated my very long scarf but I’m going to make him a little Day of The Tentacle inspired one instead. Will make matching accessories if I have enough yarn left over. (30/10/13 – I started this a couple of weeks ago – not been working on it constantly but it’s nearly there. Another few evenings should do it.)
2b. Make a jumper & cardigan for me, and maybe felted slippers for John – this are maybes more than definitelys. (30/10/13 – jumper is finished, just need to tie in ends, go me! Yarn has arrived for the jumper.)
3. Tidy out our pantry/store-cupboard cupboards to get a good idea of what we’ve got and what we need (for us and the animals) – this is a sooner-rather-than-later one so we can stock up as necessary. We order our cat and dog food online so I’ll make sure we have a spare bag in store in case there are any problems with deliveries. Chicken feed is bought locally – but they sometimes have problems getting their deliveries in bad weather so again, I’ll buy an extra bag.
4. Buy a new stick blender – our old one, which has been a faithful kitchen friend for many years now, is on its way out (think: disturbing electrical crackling from within!) and I don’t think it’ll handle another souping season without dying spectacularly, shocking us or both.
5. Make pyjamas for Mum and a blanket for Mum & Dad’s bed – share the snuggy!
What have you got to do before the cold weather kicks in?
This is the second crochet blanket I’ve made in two months. Yes, I know it’s June and gloriously sunny outside but what can I say? I live in the north of England and I’m realistic.
While I was finishing up my Ann Perkins blanket* at the end of April, I had a huge urge to make a solid square blanket: one colour per square like Heather’s Elmer blanket.
I used Stylecraft Special DK – I don’t usually like acrylic but this is alright. In the flesh, the colours are quite nice, it’s not quite as shiny as most synthetics and it’s super cheap. I used six colours: plum, grape, mocha, raspberry, parchment (nicely off white), and claret – the latter being my least favourite colour of the set, but I think it adds a nice contrast to all the purples.
One of the reasons my crafting extravaganza hasn’t gone as planned is because of my hands. Between lots of wet felting, crochet and protecting my super-sensitive new scar over the last month, they’ve been slowly turning into T-Rex claws. But it wasn’t until Friday, when my knuckles were properly swollen and achy as well as stiff, that I actually thought about it seriously.
(Me, on Friday. Except I have curlier hair. And glasses. And a shorter tail.)
When I’m working at my computer, I’m pretty good at taking breaks, sitting in a good chair and doing little exercises to help reduce shoulder/eye strain etc. (I don’t use it any more but when I worked at the university, I used to use Workrave to keep me in line.) But for some reason, I don’t apply the same principle to crafting – I can sit curled up in a ball, on the sofa, for hours at a time, and the only exercise I do to break it up is occasionally tickle an animal or clasp my claw around a cup of tea. (This is a small exaggeration, but only a small one.)
As my dad has pretty bad osteoarthritis and I’ve had joint pain problems in the past (in my knees particularly), I’ve decided to take Claw Friday as a bit of a wake up call so it doesn’t get worse in the future. I’ve started breaking up my crafting like I do my computer time (and like any sensible, normal person would do) and switching between different things (eg between crochet and sewing over the weekend) rather than doing the same thing over and over again. I’m hoping to start going swimming again regularly from the summer onwards which will help things generally but in the meantime, I’ve also started doing some hand/forearm exercises that I remember from my yoga/pilates days – hopefully encouraging my muscles to become a little more flexible again. It’s amazing how just a few days of those has already improved things.
Do you do any particular exercises to help prevent RSI/other injuries during your crafting/making or gardening etc? Do you have any tips?