Thursday, 23 June 2011

Flower dress stage 2 pattern adjustments

Stage 2: Pattern adjustments
I decided to use my favourite dress pattern with a cowl neck. This will make the best use of the wonderful drape of the fabric. I have already made all the necessary fitting adjustments to the pattern. Although the pattern has a zip in the back I know this is unnecessary so I have decided to cut the back to the fold.

The back of the dress has a kick pleat but I have decided to add two side slits to the dress and remove this - then I can put the centre back of the skirt to the fold too. However, I will need to add a small centre back dart to get a good fit to the small of my back. By eliminating the centre back seam the pattern will remain unbroken. I have specifically chosen a pattern with a waist seam as this will fit far better than a shapeless shift dress where the material would just hang rather than drape beautifully. I have already made this patten in a fine crepe so know that it works well with this silk jersey

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Flower dress stage 1

Stage 1: Preliminary checks on the fabric.
Just as I always do a tension square when knitting I have learnt to do a sample square when sewing too!
I washed a 30cm square to check if there was colour run and that it didn’t shrink or stretch significantly. Having a decent size sample also allowed me to determine the best way to press the fabric. No colour run, no stretching, no shrinking. Pressing will need care using my custom silk muslin pressing cloth with gentle steam and a low/ medium heat. It was good to see all the creases in the full length disappear.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Making a dress in a rose print

As with my previous postings about making a coat, I will write about this in stages, explaining the challenges I had and how I solved them – hoping it will help other seamstresses who aim for perfection like me!

I love my blue dress

I thought the pattern (Vogue) would be great for some wonderful silk jersey with a striking rose pattern that I had in my store.

The fabric I fell in love with – yes, following the given pattern placement will not work!

In terms of turning this material into the dress I dream of there are (at least!) two challenges; sewing this beautiful ‘drapey’ material so the seams are perfect and placing the design to best advantage.

Monday, 20 June 2011

A diversion as a ‘discerning diner’ on Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula, Wales

As some of you know I have to be wheat, dairy and gluten free for medical reasons. Just a small amount of any of these and it can take me up to a fortnight to recover! Hence eating out is challenging but not something I intend to give up. So, in the interests of helping others I will document places that were excellent and places that I will avoid in future. I hope it will help others. I have learnt in the 4 years that I have been like this that it is worth searching for a place that has a chef present – usually they see it as a bit of a change and do a brilliant job for me. Using the Alistair Sawday series of books has proved really helpful – and no I am not getting any money for saying this. The following are taken from Alistair Sawday’s Special Places : Pubs and Inns of England and Wales.

So lunch on Anglesey, we had decided on The Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay. Lunch looked expensive (more like dinner price) but I am prepared to pay more to have something that does not make me ill. I found a dish, produced my card for the chef and the order was typed in and then phoned through (concern number one, the chef did not see the card). Concern number two- only ‘no gluten’ mentioned on the food receipt, I asked if this could be corrected (as it was). My husband was able to have a smaller portion of fish and chips so all looked sorted. The food came very quickly (concern three- in my experience not a good indicator); I had a jug of sauce on my plate – smelling like lemon butter (concern four). The fish also trickled yellow liquid and the potatoes looked like they had butter on them. The waitress explained the kitchen was unsure whether or not the sauce was OK, hence why it was in a jug on my plate!! My meal was changed and the fish arrived with no butter, and the vegetables lacked the potatoes. I was not ill but this was not a great start to 3 days of eating out. I did mention my concern to one of the staff but I am unsure if she realised how serious this could have been.

We stayed at Y Beuno, just south of Caernarfon. 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts here were fantastic- bacon at breakfast was more like a gammon steak. The waiting staff were very understanding, the chef made the necessary modifications to dinner and my toast (Genius bread that I carried with me) was well toasted. I enjoyed the food. It was a great place to stay and we hope to return before too long.
Lunches are usually more tricky. I am better with a hot lunch but do get a bit fed up with baked potato! We had hoped for lunch in Aberdaron but having looked at the café and the 2 hotels decided that we might be better in Abersoch. This was an excellent decision as we found the Abersoch Café ( next to the Deli) where I had steak & salad (without the roll, but with my bread toasted) and the staff offered me crisps as an extra – having already checked they were OK for me. This was a great lunch and to be recommended as a lunch place if you are in the area.

We were in Portmeirion for the second day, the sun shone, the bay was glorious and we had targeted the Gwesty Hotel for lunch. We sat in the window overlooking the sea in a glorious room as the sun poured in. It was delightful. I chose a ‘small plate’ of chicken, lentils and salad minus the ciabata. Help was sought when I produced my card and the kitchen was consulted. Not only was my bread toasted as a replacement for the croutons, it was even turned into croutons. My only slight concern was that dressing had been added (once in a different place butter had been added to my own bread!), but of course this proved to be suitable. The venue was delightful, the staff were delightful and the food was delightful. We are already planning when we can go and stay at Portmeirion.

So, in all I had 6 meals out and of these only one was very disappointing, showing a lack of understanding and I was made to feel as if I was being awkward. As the other 3 places show when the kitchen gets it right then eating out is a pleasure and not a frightening ordeal.

I hope that others with dietary intolerances find this helpful. I will add other places as I try them out.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The 3 skeins

Here are the 3 skeins of 'Little Moreton Hall' yarn which I am pleased to say are consistent in colour 'randomness' (if that makes sense) and diameter. I've loved doing this art yarn design project and have received lots of encouraging comments, so thank you for those. Total length is 85m and mass 70g.

For all those who are asking 'what are you going to do with it', I have some ideas and as I gaze at the yarn I guess I will have keep watching.

My next postings are likely to be about a sewing and design project for a dress.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The first batch of finished yarn

At last the spool – I love it.

The next stage was to form a hank, wash it and then see what it looks like when formed into the final skein. It's everything I hoped it would be!

There’s still about half the batt to spin and that includes the sample that some of you have seen at Little Moreton Hall. Hence the need for careful records to ensure all the yarn is consistent.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Little Moreton Hall yarn sample 2

Sample 2 now completed.

This has been washed, which gives a better idea of the final yarn. It hangs well and is a balanced yarn. It conveys to me the colours of the building and the wood holding it together. Whilst being a contemporary yarn it is not so ‘off the wall’ that it is difficult to find a use for it, other than to look at it and admire it! I am happy with this, so this will be the yarn. In plying the charcoal grey finer yarn is held in the left hand with the decorative slub yarn winding round it. The next stage is to spin a bobbin of this and to see it in a hank.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Importance of Sampling

I had a picture in my mind of my Little Moreton Hall Yarn -it was to be a singles thick and thin slub. When I spun a sample of this it clearly was not going to be any more than a great yarn to look, to my mind it wasn't going to functional! It was too full of air! On further research I found that this was not uncommon. It has been found that commercial 'tops' has been found to give the best thick and thin slub. That makes sense as the fibres will be more dense in the commercial stuff.

So further thinking was needed. Back at the drawing board -actually in the shower - and thinking back to my building I realised I could make a yarn that was even more suitable for my title of Little Moreton Hall yarn. I would spin one ply as a smallish slub mixed yarn and ply it with finer charcoal /black singles, just as the dark oak is holding the fabric together.
Here is the first attempt – still a little light so another sample is needed. Both slub and the charcoal grey are S spun, and Z plyed.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Preparing the fleece

The fleece is from a local farmer who overwinters the sheep by arrangement with a farmer in the High Peak. The fleece is a Swaledale x Blue faced Leicester cross and it is beautiful. This was washed.
Obtaining the colours
Some of the fleece was mordanted with alum & then dyed to produce the colours for the yarn:
Charcoal grey – this was first dyed with elder and iron as additive which produced a medium olive colour. This was then overdyed with logwood which has produced the colour I am using. (Experimenting went on before this decision!)
Orange – this was obtained by solar dyeing (for a month in my greenhouse) using meadowsweet which I gathered in Cumbria.
Yellow – again this was solar dyed using sorrel seeds from my garden.

The natural, charcoal grey, orange and yellow fleece was combined on a drum carder by forming a sandwich with the colours as the filling. I estimated the ratio of the colours from my source photo, keeping some of the charcoal grey separate.

The carded batt which I will spin looks like this.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Intial thoughts on the design of the yarn

From the building:
Off white lime(?) plaster
Lots of dark grey oak forming the frame
Orange/yellow lichen catching the sun on the roof
A ‘natural’ building
Traditional / Heritage
A grand building

From the Guild (Alsager Weavers, Spinners and Dyers) strapline
‘promoting our traditional textile crafts with a contemporary twist’

The window in the second photo is of the Long Gallery where the exhibition is being held.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Little Moreton Hall Designer Yarn

Alsager Weavers, Spinners and Dyers are delighted to be at Little Moreton Hall for their exhibition this year ( June 1st - 12th). It is a wonderful Tudor National Trust building and our exhibition will be in the Great Hall and room adjoining.
I love to demonstrate spinning at the exhibition and this year I thought I would spin a yarn designed just for the Hall. I have designed yarns before but not done it publically so to speak so here goes.
It will be a slow yarn! In the context of LMH by that I mean:
• I hope to enjoy the process of making the yarn as much (or more) than the yarn I produce
• I will enjoy talking to to visitors and I hope encourage visitors that they too can master spinning skills as I demonstrate what I am doing
• During the demonstrating I show how my spinning is the same and different from spinning in the past (linking with the history of the hall)
• The fleece will be sourced locally
• The colour will be ‘naturally dyed’ and where possible the plants will be gathered by me
• It will be a unique yarn that I have created