Dragging into the new year

This month did not go as planned. So far it has been one of those months where nothing has gone to plan.  I had very grand designs to get a few projects done, but they never eventuated. Firstly Sleepthief got sick, and then myself, and then Sleepthief again.  Together, that has wiped all of the month.

It has been a very long time that I have been so unwell that I could not move out of bed. Even with a temperature hot enough to fry and egg on my forehead, I could feel myself getting bored with lying in bed, doing nothing. We have now made it a rule in our house that no one is allowed to get sick on Saturdays anymore. We have had far too many visits to the out of hours GP, as lovely as they are.

However, this forced down time was not all bad.  Sometimes time wasted is not wasted time. Having Sleepthief unwell gave me extra time to give my entire focus to comforting, loving and just being mum on a different level. Sleepthief is incredibly independent, and I made sure I got my full quota of cuddles that I normally wouldn’t have had!

And it gave me time to think and be still, to have silence.  I am beginning to think that silence is a luxury forgotten in modern times. We all seem to be busy with work, family, socializing, social media, reading books, doing all these things we ‘must do,’ rarely taking time to stop, be still and just breathe. And despite being unwell, this stillness and silence was lovely.

And then after all that was the wonderful business of Christmas. A very happy and belated Christmas to you all!

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

Looking over work I have completed this month, the Stumpwork is slow to move at the moment. I had a great challenge with the bed head. After a discussion with the tutor, we decided padded satin stitch would give the desired effect. The trick was to get an angle for the satin stitch that suited the angles of the bed frame. This was no easy feat. Many times, I thought of throwing it all in for a long and short stitch approach, but my perseverance paid off. I have angles I am happy with, it looks neat enough, and I would advise against satin stitching in black, as it is incredibly hard on the eyes!

IMG_2656 IMG_2657

I have had to source some new materials for the next part. I am going to be making slips for the wolf’s face and hands. I have decided to use some silk for a very shaggy and ugly effect on the wolf. My initial supplier of this thread fell through, however I found a brilliant, plentiful supply of flat silk thread in a variety of colours from Midori Embroidery (who were also very helpful with the colour and thread selection).

In the meantime while I wait for the silk to arrive, I will be concentrating on knitting the blanket for the bed. I am going all out granny style for this with wonky knitting on 0.7mm knitting needles and using Crochet Cotton and Cotton Perle. It was quite difficult at first, but it has gotten easier the more I have knitted. There is very little flexibility in these threads, making increasing, decreasing, casting on and off very difficult. I have gotten around and issues with these using a 0.7mm crochet hook – to keep me sane! Pictures to follow.

To each and all have a Happy New Year, and may 2015 be a year for you to live your dreams.

Little trees and knee high socks

This weekend was glorious. Crisp days with clear blue skies. My favourite type of winter days. It puts me in the mood for the ‘non-serious’ type of creating. I can set aside my Diploma work for a little while and create something for the pure joy of creating.

The stumpwork is coming along nicely. I am happily up to date with my stitching plan. The fabrics have been applied to the background. The fabric was still together when I pulled the fabric drum-tight on the slate frame. I also made a start on the first part of surface stitching – leaf stitch and ‘long and short’ stitch using Appleton wool. I am quite happy with the result.

Stumpwork

In the bigger scheme, it is quite a small amount of stitching, but the colours contrast beautifully with the shiny silk fabrics.

Stumpwork

With my brief hiatus from this piece, I spent some time making a stocking for the Sleepthief for Christmas. I thought I would go for a tactile rather than visually ‘pretty’ design. With the winter settling in, bringing with it cold and frost – and making themselves quite comfortable, I thought I would do this mini project to make me feel all snug, cosy and festive.

I have never really been a drawing to sewing machines. I come from a family of women who were very talented with a sewing machine, however I spend my childhood and teenage years as far from a sewing machine as I could get. I was given a little £50 John Lewis sewing machine a few years ago and tried my hand at it. Little by little, I have been bringing it out of the box more often, becoming more confident and more adventurous each time. This time, I was going to need a pattern.

Firstly, I got out a few old knee-high socks, an old newspaper and a marking pen. I outlined the design, tweaked the shape, then cut out the ‘pattern.’ The fabrics I chose were red cotton velvet, white faux fur and a Christmas patterned cotton. Right sides of fabric facing, I cut out the shape, leaving a 1cm seem allowance. I cut out a rectangle of the faux fur that was approx 18cm x 30cm for the trim along the top of the stocking. All up – there are 4-5 parts to the stocking, 2 velvet stocking shapes, 2 cotton stocking shapes (or 1 if the fabric is folded along the grain to create a seem, like I did in the middle picture below) and one faux fur rectangle.

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With right sides facing, I machine sewed the edges of the velvet and the cotton pieces, leaving the top open. I turned the velvet stocking inside out, inserted the cotton stocking (once sewn and right sides still facing) into the velvet stocking. I folded the faux fur in half, pinned it to the velvet, did a quick seam with the sewing machine, then turned the faux fur edge over, pinned it to the cotton and slip stitched this seam.  I added a little gold ribbon (trapped between the faux fur slip stitching) to hang the stocking.

coffee and stitching StockingIMG_2541

This first half was all done at home. I cut the fabric and machined the seams. All the hand sewing together was done while having a relaxing coffee and cake at my favourite coffee shop. It was such a great place to work on a festive piece, the staff were showing off their amazing new hand painted Christmas aprons, the owner was decorating the Christmas tree in the corner behind me and there was just that happy buzz of the festive season drifting through the coffee shop. It was really a lovely way to complete my mini project.

It is a visually very simple stocking, however there would be so many ways to embellish a stocking and make it a truly unique and gorgeous addition to Christmas decorating around the house. I chose more textured fabrics because Sleepthief is still too little for adornments. But the verdict said it all – Sleepthief hugged the stocking, smiling and stroking the contrasting textures of the velvet and faux fur for the rest of the afternoon.