Thursday, 31 March 2011

Japanese for beginners

I finished this tank top for my daughter a few days ago: 

I am going to make the bold claim that the tank top is the best garment ever. Such a cool shape, you can wear other colours and prints with it, it keeps vital organs warm, you can't get baked bean juice on the sleeves because there aren't any sleeves. And, and, because it has no sleeves it does not take as long to make.

Ravelry had just the right one, in the Japanese style (diagrams not words).  And so it came to pass that I learned how to crochet, Japanese style. I searched and found a chart that was very clear and helpful, and I was off.

You must undergo a sort of brainwashing, a crochet year zero re-education programme. Everything you know is wrong. Symbols not words. You can read Japanese, you just think you can't.

And, I have to say, it really was not too hard. Yes, there were times when I got lost and had to stare very, very hard at the diagram until it unscrambled itself. And, a couple of times when I took an executive decision to just do it my own way. But all in all it was straightforward once I got started.

I found a nice rhythm, my new ergonomic hook was a delight (I found it far easier on the fingers). The alpaca yarn I chose was soft and warm and a pleasure to work with.

I made some changes to the pattern. I followed the advice of the other Ravelry users and decreased one scallop from the width and added a button as I did not want the neck to become too tight in a year. I also simplified the edging.

So I'm rather pleased with it meself. And the wearer? She likes it too. Accessorised with cake, a swing and an ice cream van. Last Saturday it kept her warm from Embankment to Hyde Park. A placard: the best accessory of all.

I cannot order beer in Kyoto, I would stumble asking directions in Tokyo, but at least I now understand the crochet.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Friends and family fridge magnets

Still on the theme of 'things to make whilst stuck at home with small spotty people' come these:

Friends and family fridge magnets. 

I recently saw this amazing thing in my local stationary shop:

Sticky magnetic tape. It may not look like much but my word, the exciting possibilities. 

At the same time, my older daughter's confidence in - and enjoyment of - drawing has noticeably increased of late. We decided to draw some pictures of ourselves and some friends and one thing lead to another. Before you could say Lesley Judd I was reaching for some sticky back plastic and the magnetic tape and these were born.

Just draw straight onto card, or back the paper with card. Cover with sticky back plastic, stick a smallish piece of the magnetic tape to the back and you have yourself a bespoke fridge magnet.

The artist and her baby sister. Not a bad likeness actually.
This would be me.
We made some as a gift for a family with a new baby:

Halfway through the drawing process it was decreed that this was in fact a family of aliens, hence the many red arms and legs. 

A great personalised present I think, after all who amongst us does not love a fridge magnet?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

hot air balloon mobile

I saw this small but beautiful Alexander Calder exhibition recently and thought about making some kinetic art of my own. My head is still full of hot air balloons so: a hot air balloon mobile.

Also, chicken pox is currently raging though my house, so we are spending a lot of time at home. Therefore it had to something for (spotty) small and big hands to make together.

I wanted to make a mobile with five balloons flying around. I drew out a shape for the template and cut out ten on some thin card, one pair for each balloon. 

Then we drew on the balloons, cutting and sticking and having a fine time. I used some Japanese washi paper from my stash and glued it with a glue stick to the balloons. Each pair was done in the same way.

Then, I folded each balloon down the middle. Using a sewing needle and thread I sewed the pair together spine to spine.

Two pieces of galvanised steel gardening wire was bent around a skewer to make loops for the thread. Tying the balloons into the loops the mobile was complete.

With great joy I discovered this beautiful Swedish photography blog recently. Hilda has found a brilliant way to Help Japan.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

my beautiful balloon

Some friends of mine had a baby girl recently. Meanwhile, I had been dreaming about hot air balloons. So beautiful and also a little bit spooky. 

A project (and a baby) was born.

I got drawing and made a design I was pleased with. 
This was my template:

I made two and dissected one. Each piece was then pinned onto a piece of fabric from my scrap basket. The fabric was then cut around using a rotary cutter. Scissors are fine, just a bit more fiddly:

I thought about doing this bit on freezer paper and ironing straight onto the fabric for easier cutting. But then I would not have been able to reuse the pieces. In retrospect, it would have been easier. But you know, reduce reuse recycle. 

I then arranged the pieces onto some fusible interlining and pressed:

I pinned the balloon onto an old t-shirt and set my sewing machine to a medium sized zig zag. 

I sewed slowly along all edges taking care to get them right in the middle of the zig zag:

I really needed a jersey needle for my machine as it tore the t-shirt in a few places. so much so that I had to cut the balloon out and sew it to a new t-shirt. 

So much for reduce. 

For the sleepsuit I cut along the line of the poppers and zigzagged along this edge too:

And up, up and away:

One for the brother and one for the sister.

This was the earworm for this project.

Man, I want to go to the fifth dimension and wear a suit like that.

PS Some more things that we have been making for these folks recently can be seen here.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

On the road

On the road

Cracking the code. 
The picture above makes the picture below:


East London to North Wales. Miles and miles and miles.

Perfect for a crochet jag.

a year above the shop

a year above the shop