Saturday, 3 March 2012

Scottish Spring Quilt Festival, 2012

Since discovering Ravelry in May of last year, all of my crafting attention, and leisure time, has been taken up with knitting. When I started this blog, patchwork and quilting were my main focus. Here in Scotland, in March and September there are national quilt shows at Ingliston, just outside Edinburgh. March is the Spring Quilt Festival, and September is the Scottish Quilt Championship. Although I only started attempting patchwork last year, I’ve been fascinated by it for years, and have been regularly attending both events for the past 4 or 5 years. When the September 2011 show was coming up, although I was focused on knitting and had no inclination to get the sewing machine out again, I still went along to get some quilting eye candy. I thoroughly enjoyed the show – you can see my write up of the show in this previous post – but didn’t come back itching to get going with the patchwork again. I was coming to the conclusion that perhaps knitting was my ‘thing’, and that would be it for the other crafts I like.

So this year, when the spring quilt show came around, I thought seriously whether it was worth travelling all that way to spend one of my precious weekend days on something other than knitting. On the morning of the show, I decided yes, I’d just go. It would be a shame to miss it. If I got there early, I might just leave early, and get back to my beloved knitting in the afternoon.

Wow, how wrong I was. The show was fantastic, and after getting there for the doors opening, I stayed until the show was closing! So many beautiful quilts on display. I’ve come back feeling thoroughly inspired, and I can’t wait to get back to my Sunshine and Shadow quilt that’s been languishing since May last year. I’ve put photos of my favourite quilts up on my Flickr page so feel free to go and have a browse there. It was difficult to come up with just one favourite from each exhibition, but here goes...

Undulations by JanHassard,

Swatch Potch by Judith Wilson,

Stash Cupboard Blues by Rebecca Collins,


Now, I'm racing to get my Laminaria shawl and Sedum Jacket finished so I can get to work again on my Sunshine and Shadow quilt...and I'm already planning a few more!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

First foray into lace

Back in November, I found out that a friend who had been out of the country for 10 years was coming back home for good. Since he's been away, he's got married to a lovely girl he met on his travels. They've been home for visits at least every year, so we've all got to know her, but apart from these flying visits, she's never actually stayed in this country before. When I saw them in November, she was very taken with the little cardigans I had made for another friend's twins, so I thought it might be nice to knit her a welcome gift.

Although I've never knitted charted lace before, I've had the Frozen Leaves pattern in my list of favourites for a while, and had decided it would be my first proper lace project. That seemed ideal, and as they were planning on coming home at the end of February, there was plenty of time to get it done. I bought the yarn mid December (beautiful Drops Kid-Silk, in a deep red) and cast on straight away. The very next day I found out their plans had changed and they were now coming home in two weeks time - just before Christmas! My original plan had been to post it to their new address so that it arrived within a couple of days of them getting there, but clearly that was not going to happen now. I decided that if I had it done within a reasonable time of them coming home, I'd still gift it, but if not I'd keep it for myself.

The pattern was quite straightforward, and I really enjoyed knitting it. It took about 5 weeks to finish, and then about another 3 weeks to get round to weaving in the ends and blocking it. I knew the first chance I'd get to see them would be early February, at a friend's birthday party, so timing wise that was all OK.

I'm delighted with the way it turned out, and I do hope she likes it.
Pictures are available at my Flickr page, and a regular commentary can be found on my Ravelry project page.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Buoyed by success...

I'm delighted to say that my two super cute Saffron cardigans went down a storm with the recipients! You know what it's like when you make something as a gift - you have that last minute panic that the person you made it for isn't going to like it, or they do, but it doesn't fit. Add in to the mix the fact that the recipients are 4 years old, and would presumably have no qualms about tossing it aside if they didn't like it. I needn't have worried. The gift wrap was barely off and they were dragging the cardigans on. They insisted they wore them for the rest of the night, and refused to take them off to go to bed. That goes down as a success in my book!

I don't have any photo's of them on, but here's the pink one finished:

... and here's the lilac one:

As soon as they were cast off, I was itching to get something else cast on. My next planned project was a lovely side to side jacket/cardigan from Drops Design. As some other Ravellers had complained the finished result was too short, I decided to cast on for the medium length, while following all other instructions for the small. About half a day into the knitting, I felt it was still going to be too short, so ripped out, and cast on again for the XXL (ridiculous as it sounds!), still following the rest of the instructions for the small. Several days into the knitting for that size, I realised it was STILL going to be too short. The Rowan Kid Classic that I had chosen simply had too much 'bounce' for all the ribbing in the pattern (which was supposed to be knit in Garnstudio Drops Alpaca). I made the painful decision to rip out once and for all. I do really like the pattern though, so may go back and knit again, this time in the recommended yarn. If I do, I will still make it longer than the recommended length though.

I decided to use the yarn for this lovely Holl Sweater from Kirsten Johnstone. As soon as I saw this pattern, I thought it would look lovely in this oatmeal coloured yarn. I must say, I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting this, and it's just knitting up so quickly! I've done less than a day's knitting, and already I'm 2/3 of the way through the front:

I'm also doing this as part of a KAL on Ravelry. If you fancy joining us, dive on in!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lilac Saffron cardigan...nearly there...

Lilac Saffron cardigan by sandra_mcg
Lilac Saffron cardigan, a photo by sandra_mcg on Flickr.
Fairly powering through my Saffron now. That’s me finished the ruffle, and just got the sleeves to go now. I’m going this as part of Anadiomena’s Spice Girls KAL, which is my first KAL and came along at just the right time. The KAL is running from mid-September to end October, and I’m hoping to have this finished by the last weekend in October to give as a gift.

This is the second time I’ve knitted this pattern, and I must say, it’s beautiful. Such an easy knit, but so pretty. The wool I’m using is Sirdar Snuggly Pearls, which has a lovely thread of mother of pearl running through it, and that just adds to the sweet prettiness of the cardigan I think.

I’m off to a couple of workshops next week as part of the Yarn Cake’s first birthday celebrations. Ideally, I’d like to have this finished by them so I can start playing around with the techniques I learn at the workshops, but I’m not so sure I’ll manage it as I’ve got a pretty busy week coming up. I’ll just need to get as much done as possible this weekend...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Scottish Quilt Championships 2011

I spent a great day at the Scottish Quilt Championships at Ingliston on Saturday 24 September. As usual, I arrived early and left late – I was in the door and browsing within 15 minutes of the doors opening, and was one of the last folk lingering as the stalls were closing up. As well as competition quilts, there were several special exhibitions from individuals and from quilting groups.

I’m not sure what it is I get out of a show like this. Is it looking at the quilts on display or is it looking at the trader stalls? I think it must be a bit of both. There were plenty of quilts on display, and the Royal Highland Showground has a fair bit of space for showing quilts. There was the quilt competition, with Bed, Cot, and Miniature quilt categories as well as Large and Small Wallhangings, under 16, and the competition theme. I’m not sure what the theme was, but by I’m guessing from the entries that it was some kind of woodland theme. There were also special exhibitions by both individuals and quilting groups.

I took pictures of my favourite quilts. You can see the full set on my Flickr page.

I have to confess, I like bed quilts, rather than wallhangings, and traditional block patterns over art quilts, or quilts representing a scene. You’d probably have guessed that just from looking at the ones I picked out. One thing that did surprise me though was how much I liked the Baltimore quilts that were on display. The 2 that I’ve photographed were simply stunning.  I can only dream of having the time, skill, patience and imagination that must have gone into making them. I was rather disappointed in the number of entries in some of the categories. The under 16 competition for example had only one entry! Now I know that there are many talented quilters out there, both at home and as members of local groups. If you know a young quilter, why not encourage them to enter next year – it would be a great experience for them I’m sure, and good for us to get a glimpse of how much young talent is out there.

There was also a nice selection of traders. One of the new traders that I hadn’t seen before was Images of Egypt (for some reason I can’t find a web address – if anyone knows of one let me know!) They had a nice selection of fabrics at very reasonable prices, and some fabulous (I think appliqu├ęd) quilts on display. I made my one and only purchase at their stall – a bag of beads for my Saffron knitting projects. There can’t be many other folk who could spend all day at the show and still come out essentially empty handed, but I do it nearly every year. Clearly, I’m not as able as others to think on my feet!
One thing that I did find a bit annoying was that there were a couple of stalls selling non-quilting related things. There was one stall exclusively selling jewellery and another quilting stall with a fair bit of shelf space devoted to knitting wool. While I like looking at jewellery as much as the next person, and I’m a knitter so enjoy looking at wools, I was at a quilt show and wanted to see those spaces taken up with quilty things. I’m worried that more and more stalls will ‘diversify’, so that in the end the quilting gets squeezed out and the trading hall becomes more of a general sale. This is exactly what has happened to the Creative Stitches show at the SECC. When I was there in March, there were plenty of stalls selling clothes, jewellery, handbags and chocolates but barely anything selling needlecraft supplies, which is what I had spend my entry fee to see.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Saffron cardigan - in progress

Progress as as 15 August 2011.

First ball of yarn just finished. Reckon I'm about 2/3 of the way through the body. Still got body to finish, frill round the body, then both sleeves.

2 more balls of yarn to go, so fingers crossed there should be enough.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Less talking more knitting please!

Good start to the week - seems that the Royal Mail don't follow the local public holidays, so my KnitPros Interchangeables arrived on Monday - yay! Overall, I'm delighted with the needles - I've posted a review, which I'll keep updated.

Now that the KnitPros have arrived, I managed to make a start on my Saffron cardigan, that's going to be my 'lunchtime' project. Normally, I'll spend a quick half hour eating lunch at my desk and aimlessly browsing the internet, then get back to work, but I figured that I could make better use of my time by having a nice easy project to work on. My circular shawl project would be no use - it takes over half an hour to do one row, but I should be able to get a good few rows of this cute little cardigan done in the time between eating lunch and having to get back to work. Well that was the theory, but boy, does knitting in public attract a lot of attention! As soon as I brought the needles out of the bag folk were asking what I was working on, who it was for and so on. I spent so much time showing them my pattern, discussing progress so far, and hearing all about their own projects that I barely had time to get any knitting done. Yet, these were people that I'd hardly ever spoken to before - yes we'd nod in the corridor, but that was about it. Who would have thought knitting could be such a sociable thing! While it's been nice to talk to new people, I am hoping that after a couple of days, interest will have died down and I can focus on the knitting.