Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Made: Gift cowl and more embroidered tote bags

I have started 2015 doing exactly the same things I was doing at the end of 2014, for basically the same reasons. I'm currently unwell again (still) and so I am mainly limited to projects that I can do while sitting on my sofa in my PJs or close equivalent. I started to try to pin a pattern onto fabric for something more complicated today but, ugh, no, not happening. Hence my crafty endeavours seem to be limited at present to long blog posts about wardrobe planning, knitting and inept embroidery on little tote bags and may be for a couple more weeks.
"Gap-tastic cowl" in Sirdar Click Chunky, colourway Flock

This is my third Gap-tastic Cowl (Ravelry link) and I may just cast on a fourth in the next couple of days. This particular version is a gift for my mum. I was knitting my blue and grey version and chatting to her about her birthday coming up later this month. When I asked what she'd like as a present, she said actually, she'd quite like a cowl like I was knitting. After deliberation, her yarn choice was this oatmeal with black flecks, called Flock, from the Sirdar Click Chunky range. I really like Sirdar Click. It's not a very expensive or fancy yarn and it's only 30% wool, but it's lovely to knit, stays soft in wear and doesn't bobble, and it comes in a nice variety of colours. I am quite happy with this cowl -- at this point, I am thoroughly competent at moss stitch and the cowl knitted up very quickly and easily. I'm pleased to have got this done for her well ahead of her birthday!

In addition to a plan to make a couple more cowls (one double-stranded with a vintage bouclé yarn to this pattern and one in a totally different pattern, just for a bit of diversity), I also intended to make another pair of socks and started to cast them on last night. However, the yarn I had bought, Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal Tweed, is weirdly lumpy and uneven, and even as I was just casting on I could see that I was going to struggle with it on toothpick width 2.25mm needles. Thus: a change of plan. Inspired by Today's Agenda, and despite the fact that she is self-evidently extremely accomplished as a knitter whereas I am at the level of being happy that I can do moss stitch without making a mistake, I decided I would use my weird nobbly yarn and make a Nurmilintu scarf (Ravelry link), which I had already queued on Ravelry but didn't really think I was ready to start knitting. However, I need a lightweight project to take with me to many forthcoming occasions when I will be sitting, bored, in waiting rooms, and nothing else really grabbed me.

Embroidered tote bags
Meanwhile, I possibly need to stop making these little tote bags now before I vanish under a tidal wave of them. I do enjoy making them though, and it's a way to practice these embellishment techniques while (a) the actual quality of the outcome is kind of irrelevant since it's just a tote bag and yet (b) the stuff I make in the process still has some use.

At any rate, whereas the last couple of bags I made for my own use used reverse appliqué, these two are simply embroidered. On the left, the roses are outlined in running stitch to a design adapted from a stencil in a book I acquired just after Christmas called Printing By Hand. (Which is a beautiful book, though I can't really review it with any conviction as I've not tried anything from it yet nor even read the instructions for anything properly.) The bag is lined in a mottled green inside, so it's quite sweet really. The blue bag on the right (which has a blue lining) uses another Alabama Chanin stencil, this one called Facets (this is the placement version, there's a larger stencil as well). I decided to do that one as a practice at backstitch and, no surprise, I am shockingly bad at it! My "straight" lines are wonky as hell. It looks OK if you stand a good distance away and squint though, I guess.

In the background, I have also made tons of progress on the World's Slowest Quilt. I ordered, and received with excellent promptness, various fat quarters of fabric. I've cut those out and I'm just waiting for one more piece of fabric to arrive and then I will have everything ready to begin stitching. The design I've picked is so incredibly simple that the actual piecing together of the quilt blocks shouldn't take long at all.

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