Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Home from my Textile Journey

Well, all that was left was to hit the M6 and travel home with our memories!

But, we decided to make the most of this journey and drove over Kirkstone Pass stopping at Brotherswater for a morning drink. It had rained and there were some great ‘arty’ photo opportunities to be had- a real treat and an unexpected bonus. Then we decided to drive down to Fell Foot where we stopped for lunch. After that it had to be home, but I’ll finish off with one of my favourite photos of the holiday (however, I have about 500 of them!!). It is the context of this photo that appeals to me – I am spinning on a Shetland Wheel at Unst Heritage Centre. This memory will keep me going until we go again – next year??

Spinning at Unst Heritage Centre

Somehow I have managed to miss out the most exciting day of the first week of our holiday on Unst!!  the Friday when I went spinning with the ladies at Unst Heritage Centre. The morning was spent at Hagdale Horse Mill a fascinating place to visit , then lunch at one of our favourite beaches – Norwick. Then I went to the Heritage Centre and found two delightful ladies with their wheels, lots of knitted lace to look at, newspaper cuttings, knitting patterns, books of Shetland Knitting etc and they were going to demonstrate and help with some techniques. I had my fold up Ashford Joy wheel with me and this was an item of interest. During the afternoon, I tried a Shetland Wheel ( hard work with a very small wheel) and Minnie tried my Joy. It was great fun. Several other visitors arrived during the afternoon and we learnt a great cast on from Ann. I only had kebab sticks with me (from my shoe box hand spindle lazy kate) but they worked well.
This is Annie using a knitting belt and showing  us the cast on.
I was taken up with spinning but several of the visitors learnt lace stitches and were delighted to be started off on scarf knitting.
It was a wonderful afternoon and it went far too quickly.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Leaving Shetland

This was our last day, we were booked on the overnight ferry to Aberdeen. So after a leisurely breakfast we drove back from Braewick, stopping for coffee in a delightful spot overlooking a patch of water with swans. Eventually we arrived in Lerwick and parked in the Museum car park overlooking the old quay. It was relatively quiet and a great opportunity for last minute photos. I did manage another trip into the Museum to look at the textile exhibits in greater depth & a spot of shopping before afternoon tea.

Just look at this for a great little notebook for a knitwear fanatic!

Then it was on to the ferry terminal. We had dinner booked for 6.45 and a window seat arranged so we were really looking forward to that despite the fact that the captain stated the sea crossing was officially ‘rough’. However it seemed calmer than going out, perhaps because the swell was behind us. It was quite interesting to view!

I had a plan to visit Linton Tweed’s in Carlisle on the journey back home so not quite the end of this textile adventure!

Shetland Museum once more

Only 2 more days in Shetland so we made the most of it. We left the chalet( reluctantly) and drove into Lerwick. It was a chance to call at the Tourist Office and treat myself to a Sheep poster showing Markings in Shetland Sheep – 63 different pictures of sheep with close ups of their heads.
Then it was on to the museum with the first stop at Hay's Dock coffee shop for what Michael announced was the best warm scone jam & butter he had had in ages. I went on the very informative museum tour after which we met Barbara in the restaurant for a superb lunch. It was great to catch up with Barbara and we hope to meet again next year.
I could write a whole posting (or blog even) about the museum but just look at this for an example of the attention to detail in the restaurant.

Inset into each table in the restaurant is a sample of textile work by a local artist, designer or Shetland College student. This is the work of Elizabeth Johnson who first taught me to spin – apologies for the glare of the sun!

Time was passing so it was a quick trip to Jamieson and Smith for superfine tops - 500g should see me thorough for a few years AND a lovely fleece which I chose myself from the fleece store - so exciting. What a great shop this is.
Then a scenic drive to Eshaness and our last might on Shetland at Braewick campsite with superb views. I am stopping myself getting sad by planning what I can do throughout the year that is Shetland inspired before we return again.

Friday, 2 November 2012

A great book find in Scalloway and more

Coming to the end of our week at Nesting now. We were treated to a glorious sunny morning so set off towards Burra. We stopped on Scalloway ( as we hadn't done that before) and would you believe it there was a second hand book shop and even better there was a knitting machine book that I didn't have!
So the book was purchased and after a quick coffee it was time to search out Meal beach. What a delightful place this was, sand real blue sea and lots of shoreline photo opportunities. (One of these is being translated into a jumper/ cardigan. More later as it is in an early planning stage.)
A view of the glorious sea from the beach

Then back to our chalet to pack up but I was surprised and delighted when Barbara (Ridland)) rang and we were able to fix up to have lunch tomorrow. It was too long since we last met in Fife when she ran a stunning machine knitting course at what is now Jeanette Sendler's
After some packing up I returned to Margaret for an assessment of my fine spinning progress. I was really pleased with her great comments as I know they were honest. Continuing to practise my modified technique is something to look forward to when I am home.
In the evening I finished the pattern of the small alpaca neck scarf, just an edge and casting off on a bigger needle to go. Hurrah, this has been more time consuming and complicated than I thought initially.

Monday, 22 October 2012

A Spinning Mill at Sandness

Today was the day when I was going to visit the Jamieson’s mill where the Shetland Wool was spun before I wove it into my length of red and black dogtooth fabric for making a handbag. The journey was through stunning scenery mainly along a single track road for miles and miles. The mill seemed a long way from Lerwick and I wondered how many other visitors would get there and how my wool had left the mill. The mill had a sizeable shop where we were left to freely wander round. Seeing every single shade of their Spindrift en mass was worth the trip on its own! There were lots of Fair Isle jumpers, blankets etc to buy and a good collection of their knitting patterns – I succumbed and bought ‘Simply Shetland’ book 5, containing some inspirational designs.

Michael and I then walked round the mill to see the wool being made. The overall impression was of noise, but it was really fascinating seeing carding, roving making and finally the twisting and coning. Finally there were automatic knitting machines (working from a floppy disc) producing Fair Isle jumpers and girls doing the joining attaching the neckbands etc. In all we saw about 7 staff (on the shop floor so to speak) which seemed a very small number for what they producing,

Coming back I just couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the mossy moorland colours – as inspiration for another yarn or jumper or cloth.

When we got back it was rest time as tonight was the midnight bird watching for storm petrels on Mousa.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Fine Spinning

Wednesday was a special day as I was going to have a long awaited ‘fine’ spinning lesson with Margaret. We had corresponded some time previously about my love of fine spinning – I learned to spin on Shetland and my aim in learning to spin was to produce my own fine yarn for knitting lace. I have knitted several items including a special large stole that I was able to take with me for this day. I was very excited and nervous as this had been planned for a long time. I gained so much during my session with Margaret. Having chatted about me and my wool related interests Margaret got me to spin. Then I got lots of constructive comments and the reasons for the comments. As a teacher myself I like to think this is the mark of a truly talented teacher – to take the student on from where they are. I had a marvellous time learning and talking to Margaret. She is a remarkable woman and the time went too fast. I am very grateful to her for finding the time to help me. I was given ‘homework’ – to go and practise what I had learnt and we arranged for me to return before I left the area to show her how I had progressed. No pressure!
From the left: my Shetland fine spun - Sewing Thread - A hair (mine!)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Going South

Today’s plan was to go to Sumburgh Head, to look at the view and the birds and to stop off at Hoswick (near Sandwich) briefly to see Niela and then return via Loch Spiggie & St Ninian’s Isle. This is what we did! Wow – if you want to go to a textile shop that is truly original, inviting and inspirational then this is the one. You could just look for ages and think wow, wow and wow. I had met Niela at Wonderwool and we have a mutual friend, Jeanette Sendler ( in Perth and Newburgh www.textilecentre.co.uk ). It was great talking to Niela about her designer artwear , designer art yarn , dyeing, textile things that I am doing etc that time flew by and I had to remind Niela that I actually wanted to buy a ‘cardigan’ – this doesn’t do the garment justice! My only problem was which one to chose. The designs are great as are the fibres and construction and this will not be the only one I have from her collections I know. Mine is a crocodile – upside down in glorious shades of green. Do take a look at her site – www.nielanell.com . The rest of the day was superb but this was the highlight for me!

I hope this conveys the scrumptious texture of my ‘upside down’

Monday, 24 September 2012

Design Inspiration

We are staying in a beautiful spot, having sea on 3 sides is wonderful. We spent a day driving round Nesting – there is a lot to explore further if we have time. I did manage to do some of the alpaca scarf, it is getting much closer to the 10” from the tip that I am aiming for but each row is getting longer and much concentration is needed for the pattern. An unexpected highlight was spotting 8 Eider through the telescope before breakfast. On Monday we went on another exploratory drive in the morning and had our coffee stop in a wonderful isolated patch of moorland. My driving skills are improving; I had forgotten how hilly/mountainous parts of Mainland are. We are very excited as we have booked a midnight bird watching trip to Mousa.  We pottered on ‘our’ beach and I have loads of photos as inspiration for yarn and knitwear design. This is one of my favourites; a knitted top is in my mind’s eye.  
I seem to have an infinite number of favourites which is going to cause me have some tough (but pleasant) decisions to make later.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Gremista Bod & Shetland Textile Working Museum

Saturday was the day we said our farewells to Unst (until next year?) and moved to the Nesting area of mainland for a week.
It was a beautiful morning and during a morning in Lerwick I managed to visit the Shetland Times bookshop again buying ‘The Art of Fair Isle’ Ann Feitelson as essential reading matter for the week. *

After an early lunch I went to visit Gremista Bod in the north of Lerwick while Michael continued to stock us up on provisions for the week.
The Bod was built in 1780 and started life as a storage booth for dried fish and boat gear. The Bod building  itself is interesting as it was also  the home of Arthur Anderson the founder of P & O Ferries.

The Bod houses the exhibition of Shetland Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. On Wednesday and Saturday volunteer members were demonstrating and talking to visitors.

This jumper on on a stretcher frame outside the building signalled I was in the right place!

Downstairs was a marvellous display of a wide range of work (mainly for sale) from the Guild. Also downstairs was a donated floor loom that once had been used at Adies of Voe,  a Guild member was getting this going and we chatted. Accompanying this was a display of fine woven cloth from the loom.
One of the two upstairs rooms contained a display of organic wool, spun, knitted and woven by members of Shetland Croft Knits - this was very interesting.
The other room contained a small display of artefacts from Arthur Anderson and a display of fine knitted lace. fair isle items &  photos from the Shetland Museum collection as well as some associated accessories such as a quill knitting sheath.
I highly recommend a visit (or visits) to the Bod - even the postcards for sale were excellent.
It was excellent value my £2 ticket also giving me entry for the rest of the year.

Then it was onto our chalet for the week - on a working croft and this meant sheep - an 'old' type of Shetland and the owner is a member of Shetland Guild too!

* The author of the book seems to be based in USA, the book covers history, technique and colour (about half the book) as well as patterns. I particularly like the section on colour.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Another visit to Unst Heritage Centre

On Thursday I managed to find some quality time in the morning to do more than have a quick look at the great collection of spinning and knitting related items at the Heritage Centre, There are many examples of fine ( in both senses of the word) lace knitwear and when one thinks that in the winter there are precious few hours of natural light, the quality of the pieces is outstanding. Many of the patterns are very intricate indeed. Being a lace knitter I know how difficult it is to get an even tension, I would have loved to have talked to the knitters of these pieces to know how they managed it.
Besides the actual knitted pieces there is a reconstructed croft room giving a great feeling of actually being there and watching spinning taking place. Also well displayed and labelled are wheels and pieces of equipment used in spinning and lace shawl making. I guess most of this equipment has been made by other members of the family out of oddments of wood. Remember there are very few trees on Shetland so over time islanders have become very skilled at using what is at hand. I suspect some pieces were made from wood washed up on local beaches.

The museum does have a floor loom in the classroom but unfortunately there was no warp on this but I understood it was being used in 2011 by an American weaver who wove at weekends. It seems to me that weaving was a less popular activity than spinning and knitting. This doesn't surprise me at all given the time that fine spinning and lace knitting takes.

The picture (thanks to Unst Heritage Museum for allowing me to take this) is of fine spun lace wound ready for knitting. (I usually use a circular disc for winding my lace yarn on , but I am not sure why I use a circular disc rather than a square one!)

As a special treat for a Thursday I bought the book  ‘ Real Shetland Yarns - a collection  of woolly takes and memories' - this is a lovely book to dip into and I recommend it.
Later in the day I saw so much 'rooed' wool at Ludd's Church that I just had to bring some home - the plan is to spin it into a Ludd's Chuch bookmark during the winter.

The day ended with a great dinner at Northern Lights café/bistro. They did famously for me, great fresh local food prepared well. If you go to Unst please try and support them as they deserve to be successful and continue this venture.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Extreme Spinning

Tuesday was to be a rest day as we had walked a long way, including a lot of uphill on Monday. We made a quick stop at the extremely well stocked Skibhoul Stores- lots there including a place to get a drink with internet, nice textile items for sale, home baked bread – and for future reference Doves Farm gluten free flour. We tried to boost the local economy by buying some provisions and also souvenirs -  2 beautiful I love Unst porcelain mugs & a very tasteful I love Unst sticker – the latter for the van.

Then it was onto the Keen of Hamer where I spent a very long time photographing flowers with my macro lens – lots of tricky positions due to the usual ‘breeze’. It is such an amazing place – I just love it. After lunch – we went up to Skaw beach, the most northern beach in the country. I decided to spin here so here is a picture! It entertained the other visitors who arrived during our time there – all 4 of them. I was spinning Shetland fleece from Jamieson and Smith into fine yarn for knitting Shetland lace. I am wearing the headband that I treated myself to, yesterday.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A day on Fetlar

What an amazing day! We caught the morning ferry to Fetlar, the sun shone, it was hot and Fetlar was beautiful. The aim was to go to the Loch of Funzie and hopefully see a red necked phalarope! We weren't lucky but we did see some great flowers, the wonderful Tresta beach and had a thoroughly relaxing time.

Today I didn't spin outside but I did knit some of my amazing alpaca scarf in THE most glorious setting. No picture of me doing it though, Michael was taken up birdwatching. Instead here is part of my view as I knitted - but it doesn't do justice to what it was really like.


Friday, 17 August 2012

Fair Isle Head Band

We were on the way to  to have a bird walk but managed to fit in a stop at Baltasound Post Office to post a couple of cards – this is Britain’s most northern post office and the post mistress will add a stamp to the letter to say this! The post office doubles up as a small stationers and also has a good range of knitted items for sale. These are all ( or mainly) in fair –isle pattern and are knitted in Unst. I treated myself to a headband, but had the usual dilemma about which colour ways would be most suitable. I took the ‘let it be seen’ rather than a very toning ‘option’. I am posting a picture of me wearing this later.

The rest of the day was spent on a superb walk with the warden at Hermaness National Nature Reserve where I took an amazing selection of photos several that I feel might be inspiration or very special hand spun and natural dyed yarn.

Just look at the colours and then there are the textures…..

Monday, 13 August 2012

Unst Heritage Centre

This was open from 11.00am on Sunday so a visit was essential so we could plan the week! Entrance was £2 for one visit or £5 for a season ticket with multiple visits to this and the Boat Museum as well- phenomenal value, so of course I am now the proud owner of a season ticket.

Since our last visit the Heritage Centre had moved into a larger building, it was previously Haroldswick School. The Heritage Centre had a wonderful selection of fine lace items and spinning tools as well and there was much more on display than when I was there previously.  There was also a workshop room at the back. Local ladies use this room to demonstrate spinning and knitting on Friday afternoons – so that had to be on the week’s plan. There was  also a great 'shop' and lots more of interest.

So more visits were planned during the week and the volunteer said I could bring my wheel and spin too on Friday afternoon -  so exciting ! I did a small bit to help the funds with a few great cards, a booklet about the museum and one about Unst fine lace. The cover of ‘A Stitch in Time’ a wonderful booklet about Knitting in Unst.

 This was such a great place and to be staying so close for a full week! AND guess what there was a great tea shop down the road overlooking Harold’s Wick ( a bay) The tea shop is  Northern Lights and had  yet more craft work on display - the cakes look stunning and moreover are delicious I understand, such a pity only Michael could have one. We plan to stop here again – this is the view!

This is a link to the Heritage Centre (and Unst in general ) http://www.unst.org/2010/heritagecentre.html

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lerwick Musem visit one

We were on a moderately tight schedule as we needed to shop to enable us to eat for a week on Unst and then drive to Belmont for our ferry booking after lunch. A visit to the Tourist Information Centre was essential, a visit to the Shetland Times Bookshop, with their great craft section, was important and I had picked up that there was a Craft Fair on at the Museum which couldn’t really be missed. We managed to fit in all three and have time to cook lunch before the ferry.

Not bad for a view from a car park in Lerwick

The Tourist Information Centre was just as fantastic as I had remembered it. Lots of beautiful craft work, lots of nice interesting cards, really helpful beautiful leaflets about all sorts of things and staff that really go out of their way to help. So we stocked up on things for Unst and Fetlar as we knew we would be back in a week.

The Bookshop was great and I restricted myself to just one Fair Isle book (Fair Isle Knitting Patterns by Mary Macgregor) – for this visit!

Provisions shopping went quite well, Tesco made it easier for us as there were gluten, dairy and wheat free things, and Globe Butchers and Scoop Wholefoods helped, so that DID leave time for a flying visit to the Craft Fair at the Museum

I can’t recall visiting the Museum before – it is stunning. It is at Hay’s Dock, the last remaining area of original dock on Lerwick waterfront.

View at Hay’s Dock

The Museum is very contemporary and spacious (more later). The craft fair was in one of the downstairs rooms and also outside where there were pop up ‘sheds’ a bit like my knitting machine studio for those that know it! There was a great variety of high quality work for sale from the makers – I just concentrated on the knitted items, but there was much more. I chatted to Nella from Nielanell who makes the most amazing garments – knitted artwear. Take a look at her site www.nielanell.com . We first met at Wonderwool where she was visiting the people who now do Timbertops spinning wheels : www.woodland–turnery.co.uk . Jeanette (who I visted in Perth is a mutual friend). Well didn’t buy anything from Nella on the day – but there is a fortnight to go .. and we had to drive about 55 miles and get 2 ferries then we would be on UNST ‘ the island above all others’

Friday, 3 August 2012

To the Ferry to Shetland

Friday was to be an easy day, pack up and then drive about 70 miles to Aberdeen for the ferry to Lerwick.

We decided to take the scenic route. I always take knitting with me – for when I am not driving. The project for this holiday was to be a hand spun alpaca yarn that was to be knitted into a lace triangular neck scarf measuring 10” from point to longest edge. It was my contribution to the 10th anniversary challenge for the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I had chosen a lace pattern from a Barbara Walker Book, called Shower Stitch. It has a 12 stitch repeat and 8 rows pattern every row. This is the day that I realised this was not a project for doing whilst we were driving.  It was very challenging despite having with stitch markers to mark the 12 stitch repeats, a magnetic board and marker and a graphed chart that I had made of the pattern! Increasing stitches at both ends of each row and maintaining a perfect pattern was too stressful. Hence I enjoyed the scenery even more!

This is the beginning of the scarf.

It was a super day, other than arriving in Aberdeen in the rush hour when the traffic just got gridlocked all went to plan and we boarded the ferry, just before 7.00pm as the penultimate vehicle despite being 16th in the queue initially.

This was spotted on a lorry at the Ferry Terminal – what a great use of a side of a lorry.

So after a great dinner on the boat and being rocked to sleep in our superb en-suite cabin we arrived in Lerwick and left the Ferry at 7.30 am.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A Textile Journey In Shetland 2012

Well, back to the blog after an absence. This is the first in a series about my recent return visit (June - July 2012) to Shetland. It was packed with great experiences and lots of them textile. These were beyond all expectations – which were pretty high. It is the textile experiences that I will concentrate on in this retrospective journal. We were travelling in our recently acquired beautiful T5 Campervan – the aim of the first day was to get to Perth Caravan and Camping Club site where we would spend 2 nights - it was a great place to stay and we look forward to going there again. We decided to leave the customary visit to Linton Tweeds in Carlisle until the way back (more later. By coincidence(!?) Staying at Perth enabled me to visit my friend Jeannette Sendler in her inspirational shop called Hat in the Cat Studio in Perth. Do take a look at what she does – textile art, millinery and felt making at the shop and at her Big Cat Textiles workspace in Newburgh.
The photo is of a machine knit wool and merino felt cape that I made with Jeanette at one of her great workshops some time ago. www.sendler.co.uk (The photo is of the cape on my stand at the Guild of Machine Knitters AGM where I was promoting the Campaign for Wool in June earlier in the year.) It was great to see Jeanette again and to be inspired by her work – and add another visit to a workshop to my ‘must do list’. If you get to Perth then www.reidscafe.com produced a superb lunch, more than coping with my non dairy, non gluten and non wheat needs. Besides wonderful food, great service and highly recommended. The only slight downside to Perth was our visit to Scone Palace; I was underwhelmed by the contents of the Palace – very little ‘needlework’! However, the shop had a great range of lovely textile items, including waffle merino/cashmere/silk scarves woven on Mull by Shirley … I think it must be Shirley Pinder – this is her website: www.shirleypinder.co.uk ..and so on to Aberdeen for the ferry.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Look good and have a good day

A few days ago I unexpectedly gained 3 hours – time to (machine) knit the final sample for a man’s fair- isle jumper. I have decided to knit a strip from bottom to armhole as this will check my ability to get the colour sequence correct and check the length of more than a 60 row sample.
Well, it was a disaster, I made endless mistakes in the colour and needle selection and then an hour later realised that I had never set the tension correctly. Well mistakes are there to learn from. But, the key factor in all this is that I decided to do this while wearing my ‘cleaning clothes’. I like a clean and tidy house but I do not enjoy the process of getting there and hence do not wear clothes I like for cleaning (see later may be a mistake!). I continued to wear these for the knitting.
So, a few days later, having planned meticulously how to succeed at the sample, I dressed up in clothes I adore and took myself off to my machine knitting studio and knitted the sample again. No mistakes and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Here is a sample of the fair-isle jumper project, ignore the green – it is a tension sample!

This reinforces what I know already - the clothes you wear influence your mental state. Why wear clothes we don’t like, ever? I am now going to re-evaluate my cleaning clothes too; can I get to enjoy the process of cleaning? If the cleaning journey could be as enjoyable as the destination that would be truly great.

Monday, 13 February 2012

My oldest sewing machine

Having done a quick count up I currently have 5 sewing machines and I have given another one to my son. That’s nearly as many as I have looms.
On browsing ebay to see if an early electric one had any monetary value I noticed a couple of rare long spindles that I thought would fit my oldest machine. This machine was duly lugged from the loft by DH (I think the base is lead lined) and yes they would fit. So the machine now has 3 spindles that pass as bobbins. There is a sort of automatic bobbin wider but then the fun bit is putting the bobbin in the little boat and threading through a number of holes to provide bobbin tension.

Research has shown that the machine was made in 1898, Singer were great they engraved a number on each machine which makes dating relatively easy. It is a hand machine model 12K (I think) and it has the most beautiful gold decoration, virtually all over.
I have had this machine since my early student days, I couldn’t live without a machine – how can anyone! I can’t remember what I paid, I do remember carrying it back to my flat on the tube – I have no idea how I managed – but then I was determined.
Yesterday I threaded the machine from memory, popped some wool material under the foot and wow it stitched beautifully - the wiggles are due to the operator! Untouched by me for 40 years I think. Then I tried some tricky sateen cotton and yes success again. I am so delighted. It is now sitting out in pride of place in my studio.

This experience has prompted a few questions:
1. Will my beloved Janome bought about 2004 still be going in 2118?
2. If so when it brought to life again, will it give such a moment of joy?
3. How many students aged 19 could not live without a sewing machine today?

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Wightwick Manor, just has to be one of my favourite National Trust properties, particularly due to the Pre Raphaelite and William Morris links. I just had to treat myself to a tea cloth when I visited, not because it is a tea cloth but because of the William Morris quote ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’
I have spent much of January, thinking about or actually involved in sorting out my aunt’s bungalow after her death. This quote kept coming back to me – why were some things kept? I can understand the sentimental things, the favourite cake tin but others were a mystery.
There were new unwrapped and unworn clothes, lots of clothes the same, clothes that would never be worn and so it went on. They were, for the most part, tidily arranged on nice hangers, mainly padded but oh so many! That got me thinking about my own clothes and what would someone be thinking if they had to see to them!
So I am forming some New Year resolutions (for my New Year which started on Feb. 1st!). I have already sorted the wardrobe and have only one item per hanger and only things hanging up that fit the William Morris mantra – but it is the last part of that which I am going to aim to home in on … ‘believe to be beautiful’. I do have real joy when I open my wardrobe door. But how will I do? I have clothes in other places! Then when I have done the clothes what about my yarns and fabrics? I do have quite a store of each!

I have yarns that I do not believe to be beautiful (very old acrylics) I am a ‘natural‘ person- wool being my favourite yarn and these that are pretending to be wool substitutes are the ones I so dislike. I can’t really see that many of these are useful to me. Will I think of ‘a use’ for them for me? Do I just remove them from my house? The answer ought to be yes but will it be?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Blue Tweed Coat

Most of last year was a challenge to me, due to my husband’s ill health, subsequent operation and recovery that much of life went on hold. January has been disrupted too, for an entirely different reason. As the month comes to an end, life is beginning to return to ‘normal’ whatever that is and I have decided that Feb 1st will be my New Year. I am determined to spend more time on textile activities. I have managed to immerse myself into some projects but not enough.

I have made another coat, this is a real winter one. The fabric is from Trefriw Woollen Mill in the Conway valley in Wales, and the tweed was woven there. It is very thick and hence very warm.

The silk lining, which I think is THE best part of the coat is from Bollington in Cheshire and chosen especially to be the lining in this coat. The pattern is the same one as the camel coat I made in early 2011 (details on this blog) and I pretty much used the same techniques. The one addition was the use of a ‘clapper’ for pressing the seams etc after steaming. It is a brilliant piece of kit and has allowed me to make an even more professional job. I so love the coat and I am determined to wear it and not keep it just to look at lovingly.
I’ve been asked how long it took to make – I have no idea – I am a ‘Slow Textiles’ follower and believe in enjoying the journey as much as the product – also a bit of a perfectionist! The coat is mainly natural fabrics -the interfacings and thread are synthetic however unfortunately! The buttons are vintage, early plastic from a favourite of tin vintage buttons.