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Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country

Month

February 2016

Health and Saftey in the Stitchspace

People think that crafting is a sweet little hobby that couldn’t possibly cause any harm, on the whole it is, but it’s important to remember that you can still injure yourself badly working with sharp objects.

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A High Vis jacket probably isn’t required… Probably…

Pins can be dangerous business. Last year, my mum started telling every crafter she came into contact with about this story, where a member of a wardrobe department accidentally inhaled a pin, resulting in her having surgery. Anyone who uses pins will keep them in their mouths and my mother is now quite adamant that we shouldn’t. While I haven’t stopped doing it, I am much more wary now, and ensure I keep my tongue firmly against their heads if they are in my mouth.

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It’s hard to make pins in your mouth look good. That’s probably for the best.

Repetitive strain injury preventing me from knitting is something I live in fear of since it’s halted my mothers pursuit of the hobby. For me, there are three things that help when I do start getting twinges in the wrists. Firstly, make sure you have as much of the weight of what you’re making on your lap as possible. When you are knitting, the weight of it rests on your wrists and puts them under strain. A useful tip I read to combat this is that working on circular needles, even when not knitting in the round helps to keep the weight elsewhere.

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Could be a poor man’s Jolly Roger

Overloading your needles is a bad move. When you have too many stitches on them and you’re fighting to stop them slipping off the ends all the time, guess where the strain goes? Yup, once again, it’s your wrists doing all the work. Using circular needles helps to combat this also, as there tends to be more room on them than a straight set, but you don’t have two rods sticking out which can be annoying.

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Easier and more comfortable to put it on a needle that fits!

If you do start getting twinges, take a break. As hard as it can be when you’re in full knit mode, it’s better to take a break and spend a little longer finishing the project than finishing the project more quickly, but never being able to knit again. The thought that sends a chill down my spine. No resting properly when you do discover the problem will worsen it and potentially cause lasting damage.

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I always take a break with my best MUGgle.

Rotary cutters are lethal. My mother recently told me a story about a well known local patchworker who wore her cutting mat out so much that the blade of hers got stuck. When freeing it, she also sliced through the skin on her other arm and had to go to hospital. The surgeon had never seen anything like it and didn’t know what a rotary cutter was. when she explained to him it was a razor blade on a wheel, he couldn’t believe people were allowed them!

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ALWAYS retract the blade after use.

I could bore you with the thing we were told in school, goggles for the sewing machine in case the needle breaks… but these seemed a bit more obscure. See you next week!

Acceptable in the 80’s

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I wish my hair was as big as hers.
I think Beverly Goldberg might be my spirit animal. I finished a project yesterday and it came out surprisingly 1980s. Although a lot of the fashion of that era is considered hilarious, if you are picky, there’s a lot of inspiration to be found.

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Look at all of them! I’d be that happy if I had that many.
Gyles Brandreth is many things, politician, comedian, television personality and knit wear icon. He was known for his fantastic collection, he’s even released a book of patterns. Which I may have a copy of. Bright colours and designs that would appeal to children, this man managed to make knitwear his trademark. Apparently the volume of his collection was in four figures at one point. With the rise of the Christmas jumper and fashion choices of hipsters, the cheesy jumper is making a come back. Here’s a clip of him more recently revisiting the remnants of his old collection.

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‘Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?’
Princess Diana was the epitome of ladylike grace and sartorial sophistication in the 80s. This was one garment that garnered attention. It wouldn’t be hard to take the basic sheep design and apply it to a more contemporary silhouette if you wanted to try something similar yourself. It could even be used to make cushions, scarves, anything you want really.  I’ve always had a weakness for sheep decoration, when rendered in knitting, doubly so.

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I hope you’re singing the Dr Who theme tune in your head right now.
Traditionally when one thinks of Dr Who and knitting, the mind would instantly find itself thinking about the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and his magnificent scarf. As a knitter though, it looks a rather boring and laborious task to take on. What would be a far more exciting task is the tank top of the Seventh Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy). I’ve come across charts of the fair isle design before, and am quite tempted to give it a slightly more feminine twist. Anyone want to provide the matching umbrella?

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Crisps or video games, everyone loves them!
Inspiration doesn’t just have to come from preexisting knitting. Retro video games are made to measure for this, don’t you think? You get a iconic design that’s pretty much already a knitting chart! Space Invaders seems like it would be a great place to start. The rows lend themselves to being adapted easily into different spaces, you can get away with only using two colours. If you’re a geeky knitter like me and haven’t dabbled with this idea, what’s wrong with you!?

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If you don’t occasionally wander around humming the Mario theme tune, we probably can’t be friends.
Mario provides a huge range of choice for adapting into knitting. First of all, it’s got a lengthy history, so there’s a ton of different pixel versions of him to choose from. You’ve also got an opportunity to use the fact he’s animated to create something very kinetic. It’s not only Mario either, there’s a whole host of characters to involve and iconic backdrops. If you need a bit more guidance with adapting these thing, just do a  quick google. Loads of people have done it before.

So, thank you to the 1980s, I’ll see you all next week.

Stuff, Stuff Everywhere!

One of the big problems with crafting is, where do you keep all your supplies? I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a dedicated sewing room, but that doesn’t make it easy. The house is being decorated, I plan to make myself a little crafting corner in my bedroom. In light of this, we have been discussing how we are going to use the space sensibly and what already works for us. Here’s some of the best bits.

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Yes, it is a tip, but it will be sorted… eventually…

Small Space Storage

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This Ikea laundry bag has done me well!

When I was at university, I was living in small rooms, moving regularly and only just delving into my knitting addiction. After some careful thought, a large laundry bag seemed like a great idea to keep my supplies in. It’s compact and squashable. A bit of a pain to find stuff in, but easy to move about and would sit at the end of my bed without taking up much space.

The Stash of Fabric

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Every once in a while, there’s a big sort out and it’s all organized by colour!

My mum read a great tip online a couple of years ago about how to store stash fabric, and it has done her well. Fold it around the cardboard used by comic book collectors and it is so much easier to organize and view. (If anyone knows where this tip originated, would love to be able to share the link.) The card isn’t terribly cheap, but once you use that piece of fabric, you can use the card again!

Works in Progress/Unfinished Objects

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The Liberty bag is one of my prized possessions.

Getting distracted from your project by a new idea, it’s something I’m getting better at not doing, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely innocent of it. How I stop myself getting to confused by returning to a project after 6 months is by keeping all of the yarn and notes and everything together in a nice plastic bag. Next step, I plan to buy some plain tote bags, which I can then make notes on in fabric markers to help me identify what’s occupying it.

Knitting Needles

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The vase would only have cost me about £2

At some point I decided there should be a home for my needles to return to, but I knew trying to organize them by size wasn’t going to happen. A moment of inspiration came and I decided to buy a vase to keep them in. This was only a cheap one to see if it was a worthwhile plan, and it turns out it was! I plan to buy a bigger, prettier one in the no too distant future.

Make it Pretty

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Storage being proudly displayed in the living room

A huge issue for me is having to go through a whole process to get out and put away something I use regularly, because I’m trying to keep it hidden. By spending an extra few pounds to make a storage feature a decorative feature, it could actually make the whole process of crafting much less frustrating.

Once everything’s done in the house, I’ll do a follow up post and let you all know how it turned out. But that may well not be for quite some time…

 

A Family Affair

Both my mother and grandmother were knitters My mum stopped because it now gives her RSI and Nana is legally blind. Here, I look at some of their creations we have stashed around the house! (Please excuse the excessive number of selfies. I don’t have a mannequin to model them on.)

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Couldn’t cut Papa Sheep out, just because of his facial expression!

First up we have this amazing batwing creation of my mums! All of her knits on this list are from the 1980s, so why not start with the most 80s of them all?

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Na na na na na na na na BATWING!

She seemed to have been very keen on these kinds of cream colours around then. It was the first thing she knitted on big needles. She got the pattern free in a magazine, but doesn’t remember much more because the 80s was so long ago.

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I know my face looks unimpressed, but I actually love it!

Next up, we have this rockin’ red creation, once again from mama sheep. She actually gave me this one a few years ago, and many people comment on how well it suits me. It’s a little moth eaten, but will probably be quite wearable once I get around to giving it a bit of TLC.

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Close up of yoke

I remember my mum telling me about this independently of showing me. She told me that it was so dull to knit the body, and the feature was the lace yoke.

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Disclaimer, me modeling, not grandpa.

This is my absolute favorite on this list. Once again it needs a little TLC, but is also the most striking and has the most interesting story behind it. Sadly, it is the only creation by Nana Sheep on this list, but I will endeavor to find more of her creations to showcase next time I visit.

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Check out that fair isle!

She made it in the 1950s for my granddad. It was a post war country and resources were scarce. There are elements where the colours change because she ran out of wool and couldn’t source the same shade precisely. It’s amazing, I love it and I wish it didn’t bunch weirdly on me where it was designed for a mans chest.

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I remember Papa Sheep wearing this when I was little and thinking that it was made by sewing lots of squares together.

Another of Mama Sheep’s creations next, made for Papa Sheep. She made it around the time they got married, and from what I gather it was a bit of a dare. He didn’t quite believe she could create such a master piece. Having discovered the pattern book while going through a pile of crafting literature, I decided to make myself the same jumper in different colours. One of my great unfinished projects. (To be fair, I put the pattern away and couldn’t find it again for 6 months.)

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I feel some Back to the Future reference may have worked here.

Finally, we have another gifted to me by my mother. It’s just so 1980s, especially the sleeves. It looks much better once it’s on then you think it will and I know she was disappointed with the neck line, but I reckon I can rock it.

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The buttons on the back are super sweet.

She thinks it was made from a thermal wool, not sure how that works with lace knitting, but hey ho.

There is so much more ‘archived’, I’m I’ll post more.

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