Yet more GiveWraps!

This is going to be an indulgent post!  I have been making lots of GiveWraps.  It’s the birthday season in my family and Christmas is in the offing, so there’s every reason to have a little play with colour, yarns and fabric.  Given a nice sunny day (so the light is good in my little Woolly Room), I went into production mode.K making GivewrapsIf there is time, I like to make GiveWraps with particular people in mind.  It’s my daughter’s birthday at the end of November and last year I made her a very special GiveWrap using bits of animal print fur fabric scraps left over from her teenage sewing experiments.Animal print givewrapThis year I wanted to do something different.  I’ve got some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric (always a family favourite) – what about that?  The caterpillars are interspersed with familiar scraps: the grass-green chintz was left over from blinds I made in our old house, the pink and blue flower fabric was used for curtains in her bedroom …..very hungry caterpillar givewrapShe likes both cats and the designer Alexander Henry.  Happily these two likes come together with some of his wild and wonderful scratchy cat fabric.  I think these cats are just wicked!  Scratchy cats givewrapI have some interesting printed scraps from my cousin, Polly (with whom I set out on this GiveWrap adventure).  Here is her Microcosm enclosed print in the centre of this blue GiveWrap.  She has printed it on an old tablecloth that once belonged to our grandfather.  You can see his name embroidered on the plain linen.  I’ve kept it in partly because it is our shared story, and partly because it is an example of beautiful craftsmanship in itself.microcosm enclosed givewrapI had a few tiny scraps of Microcosm enclosed left over and wanted to emphasise the facial aspects of the print so I put them with these pieces from my old and very worn-out yukata.  I love these Japanese ladies!  The yukata was originally white – and a reject from my mother.  I dyed it turquoise – a great success – and wore it and wore it and patched it and patched it.  Eventually the time came to admit defeat – but these lovely ladies have found a new life in my GiveWraps, and don’t they work well with the purple?!  There’s a faintly mauve tone in their kimonos which is why it all works together so well.yukata ladies with purple givewrapThere are more people in this print of Polly’s.  The figures on the right are her as a little girl beside her mother.  I thought long and hard about how to make this GiveWrap.  I definitely wanted to emphasise the vertical lines so eventually settled on tree and leaf prints.  It seemed to be important to place the print on the right  so that the figures could look over the GiveWrap – and Polly’s fish print just snuck in on the left.Fish and mother and child print givewrapNow for some dragons – but what on earth was I going to put with them?  I knew that I wanted to pick out the orange of Polly’s dragon prints and contrast it with green.  Then, by chance, I came across this owl fabric with its orangey-reddy-brown owls on a soft leafy green background – just perfect!  Lots more leafy fabrics in the mix as well.  I deliberately set the dragons in two columns “facing” each other and “upside down” to each other (so to speak).  It’s a trick borrowed from the yukata ladies above that I particularly like.Dragons and owls givewrapThere were still more of Polly’s printed dragon scraps.  These dragons have been printed on a very fine gold silk, and – don’t ask me why! – they set themselves in browny-grey fabrics, and then the Alexander Henry scratchy cats just asked to join in!  Sorted!!Dragons and cats givewrapOn a roll now, I made yet another GiveWrap   I really struggled with this one.  The fabric in the centre is from a very beautiful Indian silk dress of my grandmother’s – alas, perishing.  You may just be able to see that the pink flowers are picked out with gold threads – so much work in it.  It was a very straight short shift dress – so not a lot of material – and I had no idea what to do with it, except, of course, make a GiveWrap.  But I found it a hard challenge to find colours and patterns that married with those delicate colours.

As it turned out, it is a very sentimental GiveWrap, using lots of pieces that have strong associations.  The small brown flower print is from the first dress I ever bought myself – in the 60s!  It was kept because my mother loved it – and used it for patchwork.  I’ve added strips of the soft brown needlecord that was leftover from a dress I made my little daughter many years ago.  How nice to have found a home for these special pieces.  But will I ever be able to pass this GiveWrap on?Pinky brown GivewrapAnd lastly two knitted GiveWraps which I have been working on by the fireside in the evenings.  Here I was using up scraps of knitting wool and some chenille too.  These are knitted in linen stitch which gives a pleasing woven effect.  They are such fun to put together – it’s really fabric creation at its most basic.  Little odd strands of contrast colour lift the whole.  One knitted in reds and pinks ….pink and red knitted givewrap… and the other has some orange in the mix.red and orange knitted givewrapTime to tidy up my little Woolly Room and turn to other projects.  It’s a tiny room and I have to be very disciplined as I work.Woollly room workspaceAll these GiveWraps have labels on the back.  I’ve given up using the computer for labels, finding it too much of a struggle for my printer.  However, Anne Wheaton has some helpful advice on printing  labels and perhaps when I’m next making GiveWraps, I’ll try one of her methods.handwritten labels for givewraps now

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Clearing the decks

My last major project was my story quilt which I finished in April.  It was completely absorbing so when I had finished I had a build up of small projects and repairs to do.  Projects get thrown to the side  when time is short, piling up wherever there’s space in my  Woolly Room.  woolly room workings I have a tiny little Woolly Room (so named by my children when they were small…. you might guess why from this photo – if you can see the yarn cones for everything else on the shelves.)woolly room shelvesThis post is about clearing the decks before I start another big project.

There are always woolly projects on the go in the Woolly Room so it’s probably best to start with some  knitting…

I’ve loved Tin Can Knits’ Old Growth pattern for a long time.  It wouldn’t work for me because the button band is off centre (I tend to wear my cardies open and with this cardi, I’d have a lot of fabric hanging free).  But I thought it would be a really nice cardi for a friend’s baby.  The motif that is such an integral part to this knit, didn’t work with my yarn (Rowan all seasons cotton), so I had to adjust the pattern slightly.  You can see below how ridged and gappy the original motif is – I’m much happier with my adaptation above. knitting cardi for Maud The yarn came from my stash, as did the ladybird buttons – always a most satisfactory use of existing resources.  Can’t wait to see little Maud wearing it.finished cardi for MaudWhen this little cardi was finished, I had to get something else on my needles quickly for travel knitting.  So I started another 3S shawl.  This is the first one I have knitted in stripes of different colour.  I am using bits and pieces of my homespun yarn, having discovered that I had a lot of bluey/greeny/purple tones that worked so well together.

I just love knitting this shawl pattern.  I really want to knit it all the time, so have to be strict with myself and only let it come out when I am on the train or in the car.3S purple blue green shawlI had a couple of dresses that I wanted to wear now the weather is better.   This one came from a local charity shop, and it’s viscose (which I don’t usually wear, and have recently heard terrible stories of viscose which confirm my distaste).  However, I love love love the bold fabric pattern, and it has a great hang, so I decided to give it a go.  Trouble is, the skirt had been joined to the bodice in the most unflattering way – just gathered and sewn.  The pattern is so loud that you may not be able to make out quite what I mean here? bodice of K's striking black and white dressI carefully unpicked the bodice/skirt seam, and re-joined them in the Washi dress style – it is flat across the stomach, with 3 pleats drawing the fabric to the side.  Same on the back.  To make sure the pleats lay flat (and flattering) I added a (high) waistband inside. redoing bodice band I’m not sure you will really see what I’ve taken so much care to do.  However, I know it is a great improvement every time I wear it.  And we all know that at the end of the day that’s all that matters.  modelling K's striking black and white dressThis is a beautiful dress I made at least ten years ago.  I bought the fabric in Habitat.  I don’t know if it is really indigo-dyed, but it gives a very good impression of being hand-printed and hand-dyed.  It is a beautiful soft, strong cotton – very comfortable to wear against the body, and with good drape. long version of K's Habitat fabric dress But it is very long.  I used to wear in hot Devon summers when I was much younger.  Now I am older and live in cooler Northumberland, the length just doesn’t work.  Indeed, the length would be positively maddening in the wind that we can get here.  So time to cut it short, much much shorter.working on K's blue Habitat fabric dressNow I’ve cut it shorter, and I’ve also let out the centre seam  (you can just see the exposed fabric in the centre is darker).  But it is still too tight.  Face it, Katherine,  it is too small for you to wear comfortably.  Over 10 years you have put on a bit of weight…. The answer is to cut down the centre of the dress (sort of like doing one of those scary steeks), and add an extra strip of wider material.  Then add some buttons for decoration.  But which to choose… just too much choice.trying out buttons on Habitat fabric dress I’m still not sure that I chose the right buttons…or that buttons work on this dress at all.  I’ve got a little matching bag which my daughter made for me (one of her first projects when she was a teenager and just exploring sewing machine possibilities).  She’s reversed the fabric and got the strong pattern lines running horizontally.  It’s a fab little bag – thank you, Helen!K modelling finished Habitat fabric dressNow for mending – there is always mending to do here!

Stephen had worn through the other elbow on his pullover, so that needed darning.darning Stephen's green pulloverAnd I’ve been renovating my father’s old shopping bag.  My father died just two months ago, and my mother has started to give away his things.  She thought this was right for me, and it is – just right!  Funny how sometimes the most unexpected and ordinary gifts are the best.  My father used this bag everyday when he would walk out with his dog and his stick to buy milk, deal with the post and the other everyday things of life.  It came to me worn and weary.mending RHE's bagI’ve recovered the worn handles with new strong fabric, and I’ve added patches to the corners and sides where the bag was getting a bit holey.  It’s a plasticised cotton bag, and the iron-on patch material didn’t take very well (I had to be very careful with iron temperature), so some of the patches had to be glued as well.  Here’s my new bag, visibly mended, looking great and it gives me such pleasure to use it.RHE's bag with repairsNow that all that stuff is finished, I can do something about all those exciting projects I’ve been fantasising about.

There’s fleece to be spun. Here it is, freshly dyed and drying on the washing line.closeup of green fleece on washing lineI’ve got some tapestry work on the go.Judi Dench embroidery in processAnd I’ve got some new books to explore.inspirational booksWhere to start?!