Sunday, 15 April 2018

Tortoise's Big Day Out

As promised my hand-knitted tortoise had a trip out to meet some real tortoises. They really are amazing and beautiful creatures. Most of these photographs show the baby tortoises, who are just a few years old. 

My friend got two rescue tortoises, and these babies were hatched from their eggs over more than one year. The baby tortoises were easier to photograph than the adults, as they were more eager to come out of their shells. They were also really pretty speedy. As you can see from the photo below where I was trying to get them lined up following my tortoise.

I finally succeeded.

This photo below is with one of the parents, I think Mum. My pattern for a handknit tortoise is for sale on ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy and LoveKnitting.

Just a reminder that you can still to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Stitch in Time - Part One

Did anyone else watch a wonderful series on BBC4 called "A Stitch in Time". I accidentally found this programme, but then got completely hooked. Each episode picked a piece of historical art, and then recreated the clothes using the original materials and techniques. 

It was presented by the rather fascinating Amber Butchart - British fashion historian (well there is a career that passed me by, but I wish I had known about). She usually wears an elegant turban, or velveteen knickerbockers, and after guiding us through the art and the process of recreating the garment, the lucky duck gets to model the clothing at the end. So as well as all the technical sewing bits, she also tell us what it feels like to wear the garments.

So I was very excited when I found out that the six costumes were on view at Ham House, a National Trust property which is just up the road from where I live. I had a lovely morning visiting, and being able to closely look at the garments. I'm going to show my pictures in two posts, as I think there is a lot to take in.

Charles II  was credited with introducing the three-piece suit. The painting show him being presented with a pineapple by his gardener, John Rose. His outfit looks relatively simple but involves an extraordinary amount of fiddly hand-stitching – his jacket has more than 100 buttonholes, complicated pleating and yards of decoratively looped silk ribbons.

In the second episode she looks at Dutch painter Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait. The bulky, fur-trimmed wool dress is a brilliant green. The programme looks at the interesting process of weaving and dying the fabric. 

The starting point for this garment was a rare portrait of a working man, wearing a jacket probably second or third hand. The programme looks at working with leather. When the jacket is recreated and in pristine condition, it is clear that it started off as an incredibly elegant garment.

The series doesn't seem to be available any more on BBCiplayer though you can still see some interesting clips. I do hope they repeat it, perhaps on a main stream channel. The team who recreate the outfits are led by Ninya Mikhaila, and use only traditional methods. In their workshop is probably where I would like to be. 

There are so many people who love fashion, sewing, art and history. I am sure there would be the scope for another series. 

I will show the other three garments in another post in a few days. 

My daughter has shown me how to use Layout to arrange my photos. Never too old to learn. Expect all sorts of fancy arrangement in the future.

Just a reminder that you can still to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Saturday, 7 April 2018


The answer to my question "What am I knitting?" was Tortoise. Sorry for not answering the guesses, but I thought it would stop anyone else guessing if I printed the answer. 

This knit has taken me ages, far longer than the amount of wool knitted warranted.  First there was all the research into finding the most tortoisey coloured wool. I have quite a limited range of wool shops, so in the end bought mail order from LoveKnitting. (Rather frighteningly easy. I am going to have to keep myself in check.) The wool arrived very quickly and beautifully packaged. It is 50% wool 50% linen, and has a very nice feel. I don't usually recommend a  particular wool, but usually I just suggest a ply. But for this pattern as there are so many interconnecting patches in the shell, I think just picking any wool may not work. But I would love to hear if you have success with another brand of wool, and if you can find one that is tortoisey.

Then there was a huge amount of looking at tortoises. As is nearly always the case when I start to study an animal, it turns out that there are a huge number of varieties of tortoise. I wanted to make my knitted tortoise as realistic as possible, but as there are so many types I had to simplify a little. I guess what I am trying to say is that it is all a bit of a balancing act. Trying to be realistic, against what is possible from wool and knitting.

So the shell of the tortoise is made from individual pieces, stuffed and patchworked together. They are a little like hexipuffs, but they are knitted with a top and bottom and seamed around the edges, as this was the best way to get the different shapes needed. (Did you know that the proper name for the upper shell of a tortoise is a carapace?)  I had knitted my first version of the top, which looked very flat, rather as if my tortoise had had an accident with a steamroller. Surprisingly my son (the maths whizz), who does not normally take a lot of interest in my knitting, gave me some great advice on how to reshape some of the sections to make the shell curve automatically when they were sewn together. 

The other part which caused me quite a lot of reknitting was the head - four versions in fact before I got to the final one.  It started off looking far too much like a bird of prey, and the next time rather obscene, which caused quite a bit of hilarity in my family and some rude nicknames for the tortoise .... But I am happy with how he turned out in the end. 

I am still checking the pattern, but it will be out very soon. I'm also hoping to introduce my tortoise to some real ones, so there may be some more photos next week.

Just a reminder that you can still to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party for April. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Ginx Woolly Linx Party April

Howling at the Moon has made Alison the Alpaca from Book of Pica Pau by Jan Schenkel. Some of you might know I have a bit of a weakness for alpacas. 

Alexandra of EyeLoveKnots has shared her pattern for some cute Chicken Butt Coasters.

Linda of Linda's Crafty Corner has made this stunning blanket. I love the simple geometric design, and that so many of Linda's makes are for charity.

Finally I have chosen Handmade by Amalia's work in progress. Her picnic blanket is a riot of colour, and clearly her nephew loves it already.

I can't believe it is April already. Easter and April Fool's Day on the same day - when is the last time that happened. But it is about time that we had a bit of decent spring weather. If you were featured this month you can post the "I was featured" button on your blog. (I nearly picked more features this month as there were so many lovely projects, and only a very strict teenage daughter made me whittle down to four.) 

Remember you can link up any time in April, but if you link early please call back to see who else has joined in.

Thank you again for linking up to the March Party. I do enjoy seeing all your projects and visiting your blogs. Remember to spend a little time visiting each other and spreading the love. 

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Sunday, 25 March 2018

Slow and Steady

I really can't believe that I have only posted once this month. After all the weather has been fairly bad here, and I have been in knitting. I have been working on a new knitted animal, but it just seems to be taking me ages. For a start I had to get the perfect colour for the wool, which meant trips to various wool shops and eventually ordering online, something I have not done before. 

Next I had the difficulty of knowing I had knitted all the pieces, but losing one. The living room has been turned upside down, the dog accused and interrogated. It could not be found. I thought I didn't have enough wool left to reknit, but last night had a go, and I did - just!

So despite plodding along slowly all month, I am going to get to the finish line. Slow and steady. I am getting close, so just thought I would publish a close-up picture and see if anyone can guess what I am knitting. No prizes, just the knowledge that you are right. I think I have given some pretty big hints.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Random Socks

Having done a bit of research into patterns for vertically striped socks, I did actually find a pattern that looks really interesting. But the fickle nature of teenagers, meant that my daughter had now changed her mind and decided that she would like horizontal stripes. Phew! But the socks had to be "random".

Hmmm .... so just a bit of a mix of colours? NO, they had to be totally random, random width of stripes, random choice of colours, and each sock had to be totally unique. So, can I at the least make the cuffs, heels and toes match, so they at least look like a pair of socks? NO. Random

Why did I find this so difficult to do? I am not a particularly tidy person, but now I think about it I was the sort of child you would arrange her colouring crayons in a pleasing order in the tin. When I was a teaching assistant, and had to wash coloured plastic cups every morning, I would always take them back to class stacked in a pleasing rainbow effect. 

So I did really try to be "random" with these socks. But a little bit of order crept its way in, as I did stick to the same colours for the second sock, and you might notice that I also matched the width of the stripes. Hoping daughter won't notice. 

I wouldn't particularly recommend knitting socks like this, as there were far too many ends to run in. But I am going to have a go at the vertical sock pattern for myself, and I will find a nice self-stripe wool for them.

Just a reminder that we are getting through March but there is still time left to join in my Ginx Woolly Linx party. Click on the photo above or at the top of the page to find the party. I would love to see what you have been working on this month.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ginx Woolly Linx Party March

Once again you have made it extremely difficult for me. So many beautiful projects, that it has been very hard to limit myself to just four favourites. 

Marjan of Atelier Marie-Lucienne designed and made this wonderful crochet coat. It is so stylish and well-made she must get compliments everywhere she goes.

Sandra of Hakelfieber has made this adorable Pinnochio doll. You can just see the cat from next door trying to get into the photo shoot. 

Cathy of Nanacathydotcom has made this curvacious dragon. What little girl would not love a pink fluffy dragon called Belinda?

I am in awe of Deborah of Raindrops on Roses Blue Moon doily. She says they have no practical use, but just looking at something this beautiful is inspirational.

If you were featured then please post the "I was featured" button if you wish, and if you were not then don't be downhearted, maybe next month. Please remember to visit each other, and call back throughout the month to see who has joined in the party. 

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