Sunday, 15 May 2022

Frame Loom Weaving Workshop

 Last weekend I visited Dobby & Rose for a Frame Loom Weaving Workshop.  I'd come across Dobby & Rose a couple of years ago at one of the Farnham Maltings festivals and liked the idea of having a go myself.

Of course then covid came along and messed everyone's plans up.  Then early this year I was giving a gift vouchure for one of their workshops for my birthday so I finally got to have a go.

The session was run by Rebecca, in her wonderful workshop in her back garden.  I was very luck to be the only person booked and so got 1:2:1 tuition!  But even if others were booked it would have been a small group, so I'm sure it would have been just as good.

I was doing the very basic frame loom weaving, but she does offer more advanced workshop on table looms. Maybe next time.

I spent a very enjoyable morning learning how to string my loom before learning different technques from plain weaving with thinish cotton, to using merino tops to add big fluffy bobbles, and how to create other patterns.

While my first piece didn't have much thought given to it, except to learn the different technques and to keep the colours fairly similar, I've now got lots of ideas of other things I could do.

I love how flexable it is.  I can make it as wide as my frame or smaller.  I can make it as long as my frame or longer!  I can make small pieces and sew them together to make a much bigger thing.  I can use thin threads or thick yarns or more fluffy merino tops. 

And at the end of the session, I got to take my frame and my half finished work home with me, along with a selection of yarns so I could finish it.  Meaning I can try out other my ideas too.

The only real 'problem' is that knitting wool isn't suitable as it's got a bit too much stretch, I'd be better off with a cotton, which means I'm limited on how much stash busting I can do with it, as I've only got a little bit of cotton in there.  Just don't tell 'im outdoors.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Driftwood Jumper

 I really love Isabell Kraemer's knitting patterns and when I saw the Driftwood jumper I knew I had to knit it.  It just makes me think of days on the beach.  That bit at the end of the day where you're slightly sun burnt and sandy, and the sun is starting to set and you just want something against the breeze.  Plus I love stripes.

It was a little bit fiddly to start, the first bit is knitted in stockinette stitch so I had to learn how to M1R and M1L on a purl row.  And you have to keep in mind your colour change every 6 rows, but otherwise it was very straight forward.

I used 4 and a bit balls of Sirdar Snuggly Aran in Denim and Silver Grey.  The buttons came from TextileGarden

It's been on my list to knit for a bit, but once we booked a holiday in Devon this summer I knew I had to get it done before we go!  I'm so pleased with how it's come out and I can't wait to wear it this summer. 

I am now starting to wonder what it might look like in different colour combinations. 

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Small Wooden Box

 I now have a lovely collection of handmade glass beads, but nowhere to put them.  They've been sitting in an old ice cream tub on my desk, but that doesn't seem very approprate (and is quite easy to knock over), so I asked 'im outdoors if he could make me a box for them.


We had a chat about the rough size and design and then I left him to it.  This week he presented me with a small wooden box, which just needed to be lined to finish it off.


I had some navy velvet material in my stash which was perfect.  I used thin card to wrap the material round for the side panels and some foam to fill the lid space.

It's come out so well and it's a lovely space to store my special beads.  I feel they will be safe in there (and there is room for more...).

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Braided Bead Bracelet

 Every time I show my beads to people, they say something along the lines of 'nice, what are you going to do with them?' as if having them in a pot on my desk to fiddle with when I'm thinking or in meetings isn't enough.


So I decided to try out an idea for a braided bead bracelet.  This is just a proof of concept, my glue had gone off so I couldn't finish it properly, so it'll probably come undone if I was to wear it much.

I started by making a kumihimo braid with a button at the start.  My first attempt didn't work as my thread was too fine, but this one worked ok and was a lovely match to my bead.  It's also the right size for the bead hole.


I made it about an inch longer than I wanted then made the loop.  As I said I didn't have any glue so used some nail varnish just to hold it together.


It's actually really comfortable to wear, although the bead does insist on being on the wrong side of my wrist (darn gravity!)  It needs a bit of work, but the concept is sound which is cool. I think it would work nicely with smaller beads, either just one or maybe a group - different colours in a set or a rainbow maybe?  Something to think about for the future.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Silver Lava Ball Necklace and Bracelet Set

 At The Big Bead Show last year, I found a sting of lava balls which had been dipped in silver.  I loved the way the silver showed off all their holes and imperfections.  (Normally they would be black or very dark grey.)

I bought myself a string to play with and have finally got round to making a matching necklace and bracelet set for myself.  

They are inspired by a necklace and bracelet matching set of silver balls I was given from Tiffany & Co.

I'm very please with how they came out.  I've kept them simple so hopefully they will go with many outfits, the lava gives them the interest they need I think.  I just need a reason to leave the house and wear them!

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Sea Spray Kumihimo Necklace

 When I went to The Big Bead Show last year, I found and bought a large pretty glazed bead.  I wasn't sure what I would do with it exactly, but I thought it might work nicely in the middle of a kumihimo necklace.

Having made the Sea Spray Kumihimo bracelet for my friend last year, I started to wonder if I could use the bead in the middle of a similar design, especially as the colours were very close.

I started with working out the design I wanted to use.  This had to take into account the fact I wasn't sure I'd have enough beads, and it would be hard to get replacements.

Once I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I started making it.  So far so good.  But then I got to the part where I added the bead and something went a bit wrong and I had to undo it and try again.  More issues.  So I gave up for a bit and it sat there half made for ages (weeks).

Finally, I didn't have anything more important to do and I decided to get it sorted.  I undid the bit that had gone wrong, and set everything up again, and started work.

This time it worked fine and I soon had a finished necklace.  I liked the colours and the design seemed to work and I was pretty happy, until I held it up with the bead in the middle and realised that one side was longer than the other!  


I had assumed that using the same number of beads would mean both sides came out the same size, and I guess if I'd been using uniform beads this would be the case, but the slightly larger green beads are all over the place size wise and I guess it pushed the pattern out.  If I'd measured it as I went I would have realised and stopped before it got too long.

 Lesson learnt.  Now to decide if I undo it a bit and fix, undo it completely and make it shorter or just leave it as is. 

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Making More Glass Beads


Last year I went to West Dean Collage of Arts and Conservation and spent a day making glass beads.  I enjoyed it thoroughly but wasn't sure what to do next.


Then for Christmas and my birthday I received lots of gift vouchers for West Dean short courses (thank you everyone!), which kinda answered that question.  So I signed up for the two day Making Glass Beads workshop which builds on what I learnt last year.


Taught again by Sarah Downton, it was a great course, which let me practice what I learnt last year and then learn a whole bunch of new techniques.

I could definitely see an improvement.  And I made so many more beads having done it before and not being quite so worried.


I tried to use a different selection of colours this time, but I am drawn to the blues, and the pinks were actually quite hard to work with - the glass rod kept shattering when you introduced it to the flame. 


Because it was a two day course we got to see day one's beads on day two, which was brilliant - no waiting for them to be posted to us, and lovely to have something to take home.  However, we still had to wait for the day two beads to be posted out.  It's a nerve-racking wait, and when they arrived I felt a little disappointed to start with, I'd had high hopes.  But then I started to really look at them, and although none are perfect, I have learnt so much from them.

While last time I made plain transparent coloured beads, gravity beads, beads with spots (using other coloured rods and frit) and twists, this time I did all that, but also learnt how to encase my bead (adding a clear layer over my design), more spots and stripes, two tone beads, pressing and I added silver wire!

And I made more drops, but this time I was really playing with colour so they are very different from the last lot. 


It's interesting showing them to other people.  While I am very much in love with them, most people just glance at them and give them back.  Either they aren't interested in glass beads, or they have no idea the work that has gone into them and the magic of melting a rod of glass and turning it into a bead.

There are so many other things I want to try out.  Techniques and colour combinations.  Instagram is full of beads that I want to try and copy - to see how its done.  And my head is full of ideas. 


So again I'm left with the thought 'what now?'.  There is a three day improver course in the autumn.  Or do I splash the cash and buy the kit?  The problem is I can't tell if this is long term love or just lust.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Chunky Snowflake Cardigan


I hate Christmas jumpers.  There I've said it.

I dislike how ugly they are and how they don't go with any of my other clothes.  I hate that they only get worn for maybe 2 days a year and then are likely to be chucked out.  The whole thing just seems wrong to me.

Every year I tell myself I will knit myself a nice Christmas jumper.  But I always leave it too long and then I can't find a pattern I like and then it's too late.

So this year I decided to get it done as my first real project of the year.  I found this pretty cardigan design and used Paintbox Yarns Simple Aran, in a mixture of cream and light and dark green.  (I thought it was green and blue when I first saw the pattern!)

It's knitted from the bottom up which I found a little weird - most projects I've done like this have been from the neck down.  It did mean I couldn't try it on to check it was a good length, I had the same problem with the arms.  I kinda feel like I lucked out on both as I think the fit is good.

I also believe all cardigan's should have pockets so I added a couple using the pattern from a cardigan I knitted a couple of years ago (and has spent the last 2 years locked in my locker at work!) I'm very pleased with how they came out, although a little high to walk around with your hands in them.


And what I really like, is that it is a pretty cardigan which will sit nicely over jeans/trousers or a dress and I can wear for the whole month of December if I want to.  No need to feel embarrassed this year on Christmas Jumper Day!  Roll on December.