Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017 Team Sasquatch

::Well we are off! I have joined Team Sasquatch on Ravelry which has been set up for those who love podcasts:: 

I was part of this team back in 2014 and spent a couple of year's with Team Fondant Fibre but wanted to catch up with some of my stash this year and felt I would get a lot of motivation from Team Sasquatch.

I set my goals and decided on my projects and introduced myself on their group page. This is week one of the tour even though we won't officially start until Saturday 1 July through to Sunday 23 July.

I am not planning on finishing every project but my goal is to achieve a finish on at least one. I will be using my spindles and my spinning wheel and will be using a variety of fibres.

So week one completed!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Visiting a Silk Weaving Workshop in Myanmar

I was so lucky recently to enjoy a visit to Myanmar (which some people will know as Burma). The beautiful country of the golden stupas and pagodas, temples and monasteries.

Whilst we were there we visited a silk weaving workshop where women still make the traditional Longyi which is a two metre stretch of fabric worn wrapped around the lower body by both men and women. It is a very versatile garment which can be wrapped so that it can be used as a hooded jacket, a sling for carrying a baby or a backpack for a water bottle. It can be wound so that it becomes a hat on which large trays or baskets can be balanced. It can also be pulled through the legs to become shorts which are useful for playing football or when going out in a fishing boat.

The men's garments are called pasos and the ladies a htamain. The ladies wear theirs tied in a different way to the men and are generally much brighter silk colours and patterned in contrasting colours. There are cotton ones for everyday and silk for more important occasions like weddings. 

Here are some photos I took and you will see how they are still using traditional methods and there are no computerised processes at all. I was very surprised to learn that almost every longyi you see is made in small workshops like this one and all by hand.

Silk really does hold colour better than any other textile as you can see in this cabinet of thread waiting to be used.

 Here are the bobbins wound up ready for the start of a new project.

As you can see from this weaving they are making other items from the silk weaving and this could be for a table.

Although the looms are very large, the ladies sit side by side and there is a nice atmosphere created by the very hard working women in the workshop.

These are very dexterous hands - just look at all those shuttles.

A view of the back of the workshop.

Trying to get the right shot of the looms in use.

The equipment is very traditonal and all hand worked.

Working with both her left and right hands at once.

 The wonderful colour combinations you can achieve with silk.

Here is the silk on the bobbins for the machine above.

I didn't crop that lady with her head in her hands out as she looks as if she is overwhelmed with so much choice. These are all the finished longyis in the shop area.

And here I am in my beautiful blue htamain on our boat the Princess Panhwar. I opted for an easier version which has long pieces of material which you wrap round and tie. I didn't think I would be able to manage the traditional way. You have to make sure your pattern lines up on the edges. I found it very comfortable to wear but I did wear another long skirt underneath as I thought it was a bit see through. I bought mine from a stall in a temple we visited as I was very taken with the two toned effect of the blue material which shimmers very prettily in the light. We had an entertaining afternoon when the staff modelled the different ways of wearing the longyi and showed how to tie them.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

If Tigers Were Bears and Fingers Were Thumbs

I'd love you just the same, February.

Today is the start of the Love Along knit along

I needed a special yarn to work on for this lovely knit along with Dani of Little Bobbins Knits and one which would allow the subtle design in the pattern by Amy Meeks "Love Along Socks" to show up well.

I remembered a knit a-long I started way back in 2012 with Laura Linneman of The Knitgirllls Podcast called "Mittens for Me". I was using two beautiful yarns and the lighter one seemed perfect for this new sock. I had managed to finish one of the mittens and I might still have enough left to finish the second even after I have made these socks.

The mittens had a beautiful cuff which used a vikkel (or lateral) braid and an unsual ribbing section. Laura's patterns are always fun to knit and I just can't say why I stopped working on them and consequently lost momentum to start the second and finish them. These mittens were co-incidentally part of a February knit a-long so I only hope I don't get second sock syndrome as well as second mitten syndrome for this knit along.

The Angel Sock yarn was from The Natural Dye Studio but is, unfortunately, no longer available. It is unbelievably soft and feels very luxurious. Yesterday's post has details of the composition. These will obviously not be socks for wearing out and about but for hygge moments indoors when I want to cosy up and have a gorgeous, warm pair of socks to cherish my feet with.

So the knit a-long has started and I have made a contrast at the cuff with my Christmas Eve Sock Cast On yarn to make a link to my last knit a-long with Dani which started in December 2016 and I finished in January 2017.

If these socks take a long time I won't mind as working with the yarn is a comfort in itself.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Speeding On By - January's almost over

January 2017 didn't seem to want to slow down and now I find myself at the end of the month looking back to see what has been achieved and looking forward to what direction I'd like to take.

The start of the year brought some very unhappy times for me and I really drew strength from my knitting and crafting projects which allow me a few hours to let my mind be peaceful.

On Christmas Eve in December last year I joined Dani of Little Bobbins Knits podcast for the annual Christmas Eve Sock Cast On.

I chose a simple lace pattern Lacy Anklets by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and a lovely yarn from Elm Tree Yarns called Fezziwig's Party who is, as you know, a delightful character from Dickens' wonderful Christmas novella, A Christmas Carol.

These socks have a lovely cuff which reminds me of the dancing from Fezziwig's Party.  I chose an ivory sparkle yarn to make some contrasts on the cuff and toes.

My next knit-a-long is another one of Dani's for February and it will also be a pair of socks, this time Love Along by Amy Meeks. I have chosen to abandon a pair of mittens from way back in 2012 and to use the yarn for these socks. The yarn was the truly beautiful Angel Sock and is a Sport/ 5 ply 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere goat 350 meters/100 grams by The Natural Dye Studio.

I knitted a cute little Christmas mouse called Snowball Buddies by Susan Claudino which I saw on Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet's podcast. I do love both the podcasts mentioned and have noticed lots of new ones appearing which I am hoping to have a look at.

I have been having a lot of fun with my sewing and have been making progress on two quilts and a quilted Christmas table runner.

I've also made myself a project bag which was a first for me and I am quite pleased with the outcome but there are areas which could be improved next time I make one. I need to make sure that both layers of seams are sewn together which is difficult on a project like this.

Another craft I've been enjoying a revival of interest in is cross-stitch and I was delighted to work on this very deep stash project and must now think about getting it framed. It is a sampler called Oyster Catcher and I bought it many years ago at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace.

In the garden I have been very lucky in having a new greenhouse put up and it has really become my 'baby' keeping me very busy.

I painted the old potting table and have had a lot of fun planning what to plant and growing some vegetables through the late winter months.

I sowed some Autumn sweet peas and planted a lot of paper white narcissi as well as some tulips and for vegetables I have parsley and a couple of spring cabbages which I just pick a few leaves at a time. My most satisfying grow was two bags of potatoes which were so tasty. I also had some beautiful chrysanthemums in pots to enjoy.

So the things I plan to achieve this year are:

  • to continue to enjoy cross-stitching
  • to learn a new craft (I have in mind wool punch work)
  • to use up stash where possible
  • to sort out and re-organize my work space
  • to expand my blog to include my other creative interests
  • to continue to enjoy sharing my projects on social media and to take part in a-longs relevant to the season
  • to watch and learn from new podcasts
  • to finish as many already started projects as I can.
That will keep me very busy but having a lot of fun too. 
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