Monday, April 20, 2009

Embroidery on paper

Today the shop finally is having the new front window put in, so I am inviting a few friends around later in the week for the official opening of Stitch Bliss. Most of them have already been in to have a look, but I love an excuse for a glass of bubbly! Hence the need for invitations, otherwise the council would be after me for failure to have a liquor licence.
To make the invitation notes a little more special, I have added a little embroidery to the paper.

I quite like to jazz up cards or notes with a little simple stitching, but there are a few hazards to embroidering on paper.
1. It is important to match your paper to your thread.
I have used a standard #16 "bond" weight note paper, and glued a shop logo on #20 printing paper to the top. Both of these papers are inflexible, and are made from short fibres, so the likelihood of ripping the paper with each stitch is very high. These are disposable items, so this does not bother me, but I would not stitch with very high end, expensive threads on this quality of paper. However, the stiffness of this paper does lend itself to the use of DMC stranded metallic threads, which IMO are not shown at their best on more flexible surfaces, such as garment weight fabrics.
2. Stitch size, tension and position relative to other stitches may need to be modified to allow for the qualities of the paper
Due to the possible rip out described above, my embroidery on this paper is coarse. In the running stitch around the glued on logo, I have taken large stitches, leaving the 2 strands of metallic thread slightly more loose than I would chose to on fabric. For the lazy daisy, I have again used larger stitches for the detached chain, and in the stem stitch, have modified the stitch so much that it is not really stem stitch at all. In my first sample, I found that using the same hole for the second stitch made a large tear, so for this example, I chose to vary the length of the second and subsequent stitches and also to offset the stitches so that tear out was less likely.I also found that this deviation was much more noticeable, and quite ugly in the metallic thread, so have used regular DMC stranded cotton for the stem instead.
I would not choose complex embroidery stitches for this type of paper. Anything requiring multiple piercings of the paper will seriously weaken the structure, and wrapping techniques would make the embroidery too heavy, again making tearing a problem. I am also conscious that I am embroidering around 20 of these, and I want to mail them today!

3. You know how paper blunts your scissors, so you can always tell if some child has borrowed them for their homework? In our house it is our invisible fourth child, NotMe who is generally the culprit. Well, paper will blunt your needle too. Use a generic needle, not your very best Prym, John James or Mary Ardens.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A&R Quilters

This week some of the ladies from the A&R quilting group, of Redcliffe fame, came to Gympie for a day out. They had morning tea and some handwork time at Stitch Bliss, (and there was a multiple craftswoman who did no quilting at all, just had a lovely time looking at knitting patterns, but I won't tell you which one). I stock only a few quilting fabrics here, and as I have selected them for smocking suitability, it was very interesting to hear the comments on their appeal from quilters. Apparently my smocking/quilting fabric selection is good as quilting background, or as complimentary fabrics to those with a quilting WOW factor. I guess this makes sense to me, as when I smock, I want the smocking to be the garment feature, not necessarily the fabric print.

These talented ladies are putting on a quilt show in May to raise money for charity. I will post about it again closer to the date, but hopefully you can read the flyer from the photograph.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jo Sharp Origami Jacket

When I first saw a preview of Knit 7 I fell in love with the Origami Bolero Jacket. I could hardly wait for the book to arrive. However, when I did get my hands on a copy, I could not instantly obtain all the colours of the original designs, so fiddled with some other colour combinations to see what I could do with this clever pattern.
My final choices for yarn were
A.Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton 667 Dew (as in pattern)
B.Jo Sharp Summer DK Cotton 256 Bisque (as in pattern)
C.Jo Sharp Alpaca Kid Lustre 857 Elderberry (pattern uses 860 Cork).
D. and F. Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette 752 Ecru (pattern 758 Devon and 751 Pebble)
E. Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette 750 Briar

I am very happy with the jacket, and think I will wear it a lot this winter. The weight of the yarn mixtures is just perfect for a subtropical winter. I made the larger size, with the full length sleeves - version 2, but used the yarn types according to version 1 (A-F yarns). I was a little concerned that the arms would be too tight on me for an outer garment, as they are fairly close fitting on the model photograph, and slim arms are not exactly my fitting problem, but found that the lace pattern stretched beautifully to make a very comfortable garment over a knit top.
I used 5.5mm needles for the lace sections, but needed to go down to a 5mm needle for the moss stitch in order to obtain the correct gauge. This is unusual for me, I tend to knit rather firmly, and more often increase needle size - so check your tension very carefully before making this jacket. This is emphasised in the pattern instructions, and I agree totally, the tension is different in this pattern.

I love the way the jacket can be worn as a cardigan or as a bolero. There are quite a few patterns around that claim the garment can be worn in different ways, but frequently one way is far superior to the other. In this pattern, I find the garment equally successful worn with either end up. This is wonderful design.

Although it is not shown in the magazine, I think a third option is to wear the jacket in the bolero direction, fastened at the front. This gives yet another sillhouette to this versatile jacket. I think the length and style of the jacket works really well with my favourite pants pattern of the moment - the Marlene trousers #105 from Burda World of Fashion Magazine August 2008. Here is a back view of the fitted cardigan option. In Knit 7 the very slim and gorgeous model has a lot of room at the back in this view, as there are not a lot of curves at the front. Those of us with more bust end up with a much better fitting cargigan at the back IMO!

Several people have bought yarn for this jacket in the last few days, after trying on mine, which is very flattering. Most people are leaning towards the version 1 colourway, but I love the deep colours in Version 2 as well.
My next project is from Knit 5 - the eyelet cardigan, as I found the silk georgette so gorgeous with which to knit.

The origami jacket was a lovely quick knit, with plenty of interest for me in the stitch pattern and colour changes.
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Friday, April 3, 2009

Rian Anderson at Stitch Bliss

I was very pleased to welcome Rian Anderson, (newly) local author and knitter as a visitor to Stitch Bliss this week.

Rian came to talk to me about her knitting pattern and design book, The Oddball Knit book, which we are stocking in store. Her writing style is clear and almost as entertaining as Rian is in person. I have been dipping into her book for the last few days, and am very impressed with the level of knowledge demonstrated in the many tips and techniques Rian has packed into this 46 page book.
I am keen to try one of her interesting patterns. Each of the 7 designs can be used with any yarn thickness, or fibre type. Rian's explanation of how to calculate and graph a schematic for your own individualised garment makes it look easy. I think my calculator will be getting a work out.

We also discussed the exciting possiblity of a workshop or two in the next few months. Rian is a very experienced knitting teacher, and has some fabulous ideas and a great pile of designs in her restored Chinese treasure box (I have no idea if this box was originally for treasure, but it now contains pure knitting gold). I just had to include this last photo of Rian wearing one of her fabulous garments. The teddy is also one of Rian's designs, but he is not in a book yet.

I look forward to hearing more about Rian's knitting.