Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country


cross stitch

I Got Itchy Feet and Stitchy Hands

Hey guys. Sorry about the break. I did mean to get some posts queued up before I went away, but I was so overwhelmed with packing, it just got away from me. But normal service has now resumed!

Everybody’s got something to hide, except me and my monkey!

Time to get inspired! There was so much to see and do, I lost the rhythm of crafting. My plans were dashed. None the less, still have lots to tell you about. There is a fresh creative energy buzzing inside of me, and I can not wait to unleash it!

First of all, go and see things. Find all of the most beautiful places where you live, visit them, look at them with fresh eyes. In a 7th century church in Rome, I took pictures of the floor. Weird, huh? Well, I specifically had my mother in mind, I know she loves some good tile patterns to give her ideas for patchwork. She is pleased.

Aisles of tiles.

Do things on your own and talk to people. Bit of a contradiction, right? Being by yourself gives you the time to soak up your surroundings. The most stressful day I had was when I did a walking tour of Rome. Not only was it hot and crowded, but I had to keep up with the group and couldn’t stop to take in the beauty of the city. The best places I went were places I went on my own. In Gibraltar, I talked to a taxi driver about the view of Africa from the top of the rock. In Florence I met a lovely street vendor from Yorkshire and bought a pressed flower from him. Barcelona introduced me to some American students to whom I gave some tips on what to do when they visit London which, thanks to Facebook, I know they used. I went to a talk about the psychology of art and nearly started crying because of the ideas that were discussed, something I may have been too self conscious to do had I been with someone.

Confirmed: Morocco.

Find out how things are made. Anything. Even if it’s not something you want to make yourself. Our tour guide in Rome kept saying the architecture of the city is like a lasagne and she’s spot on. Rather than tear anything down, they just build more on top and it’s given me some great ideas for making some never ending projects that you just keep on adding to.

The lasagne that is Rome

Throw your plans out the window if you don’t have time for them. My cross stitched diary I only ended up having time for the first four days. I’d like to give it another go if I have a holiday with more time to relax. On the first night, saw a band and rendered them in cross stitch. Later on I got to know them and on the last day I showed it to them. They had to have a picture of it. Happy feelings.

It’s a boat! It’s a train! It’s SUPERBAND!

Until next week.


Sun, Sea and Stitches

This time next week I’ll be on a boat on an adventure around the sunny north Mediterranean coast! I haven’t been on holiday in 8 years and I’ve been trying to work out what to take to keep me occupied between ports. I’ve got a few things planned, so let us have a look on what I’m hoping will work craft wise on holiday.

First time I’ve treated myself to prescription sunnies!

Part 1, the knitting.

You may remember me mentioning a few posts back that I’m planning to knit myself an octopus costume. With the ocean waves around me and 6 days at sea over the 2 weeks, what better time to make a start? It needs to be done by August, along with a couple of other costumes, so tentacles at the ready! The disadvantage to this is volume of the wool I will require. I’ve decided to take 3 balls with me (I have one per arm) and hope I’ve paced it right.

Green Octopus. Because why not?

Part 2, the sewing.

Much smaller and more portable, cross stitch seems like an excellent idea. The debate was whether to take a kit or not, and in this case I decided not. But what shall I cross stitch? I’m going to take a piece of Aida, a selection of colours and turn it into a diary! Every day I’ll add it it to represent what I’ve done that day, something I’ve seen, something I’ve done… Currently, I’m thinking about what colours to take and how best to record which part represents the day/place. But I’m hoping to keep it fairly organic and let it grow as one image.

So many colours, how will I choose?

Part 3, the sketching.

This week I came up with a 5 year plan. A big part of it is broadening my repertoire within art. I need to build up a skills set of working in various media and will be taking a whole bunch of classes and workshops when I get back. In the mean time, a good place to start would be warming up my sketching muscles. I bought a sketch book and a set of pencils and plan to record the beautiful cities of Europe in graphite. I’m not planning on recreating the Renaissance, just get myself going after a long break from pencil and paper.

Warming up by doodling some shoes.

Part 4, the photography.

After a few months of being camera-less and having to rely on my phone/iPod to see my through, I have finally got a new camera, and I love it and I’m so excited to use it. While taking pictures might seem like standard holiday making, I’ve decided to set myself some boundaries. Looking at old family albums, they’re so much more interesting to look at than photo’s on Facebook, because when you were limited to 32 exposures on a roll of film, you took 32 different pictures. So, I’m limiting myself. 10 pictures a day of culture and 5 a day of selfies and the like. No deleting pictures to make a space for another, I make my choice and I stick to it.

My new baby!

See you next week!


While crafting can be a way to find solitude in the 21st century, away from mobile phones and the Twitterati, the Kardashians and selfies, it can also be an incredible tool to help you with your craft, without interfering with the process.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how it helps me monitor my cross stitch progress. This happened by accident. I started out by taking pictures of what I’d done to see if my friends could work out what it was going to be. A really fun game if you’ve never played. It tended to be about one a day and I noticed that I could see what I’d done each day. When do something as focused as cross stitch where you can sometimes get bogged down in not making much progress, it actually really helps.

The month of Bill Murray.

Having photography as an instant form is useful for so many things really. I often photograph my knitting in case anyone asks me what I’ve been doing. Patchwork has an incredible application for this, arranging your blocks. This is my mums domain, and she’s always done it, even when you had to go and get film developed! (Although a little less frequently then) If you arrange your blocks in different ways and then photograph each of them, you can look at the different arrangements easier and decide which you like best much quicker. Plus, you don’t have to remember how you had them before, and get frustrated when you can’t remember how to recreate it. You have a reference picture!

Mum quilt.jpg
Mystery quilt! my mum had no idea how it would turn out. Now property of her mum.

If you’re anything like me, you keep track of where you are in your knitting with endless scraps of paper covered in tally marks. I haven’t completely said goodbye to this method, but I now often use my iPhone to make keep track instead. A well organized note conveniently titled is much harder to loose than that back of an envelope. Bonus feature when you’re making something big you can delete the notes that you’re done with, minimizing any confusion over which set you were using

Tally 3.jpg
Tally Ho!

Last year, my huge Game of Thrones scarf got over 25 likes on Facebook, with a disclaimer it was not going to be knitted again for anyone (still didn’t stop people asking!). IMG_0062The lying down next to it was to demonstrate the scale. Apparently I look dead. Later in the year I reveled this flamingo jumper. This was the second customization of this pattern, which I am completely in love with. The response online? First time I broke 50 likes on Facebook! I don’t think I’d ever got 30 on one post before.

IMG_0061The jumper I finished this week, much less fantastical but got 40! Very grown up knitting by my standards indeed.

IMG_0060I don’t make things for likes or external gratification, I make things because I enjoy the process and out come. But boy, does it feel good for other people to acknowledge the skill, time and process that went into the piece.

To New Beginings!

Hello dear reader! You seem to have found my very first post.

Today we’re gong to have quite a light post, just to get us going. We’re just entering a New Year, and it’s quite timely to reevaluate what you’re doing in all areas of your life and set yourself some goals. While I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing, working in retail and getting the Christmas season out of the way means a bit of head space and having time to look at what I’m doing. So why not set some craft goals too?

  1. Make things in a different style. I love to make really wacky stuff. I’m currently knitting myself some form of a Clanger costume. It’s completely mad and I love it. But I’m also trying to make some more sensible things. I’m also working on a much more sensible jumper from a book my brother got me for Christmas. While I love the creativity and making it up as I go along, working from a pattern and creating something I could wear in front of my Grandma is actually quite refreshing.

    Why wouldn’t an adult want to dress like a Clanger?
  2. Try new techniques. I’ve got myself up to a certain level in knitting where I have a wide skill set and don’t often try something new. However, in the jumper I’m making there’s a technique to create a cable I haven’t tried before. Guess what? I love it! I’ve been enjoying knitting this so much and I very rarely knit something from a pattern without changing something. A big part of that is enjoying this new technique. Try something new because you’ll never know if you like it otherwise.

    Please excuse the fuzziness, but hey, it could be a fuzzy jumper, right?
  3. Make more things to use regularly. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a big knitter. It’s my absolute favorite craft. For years the only thing I really made and wore regularly were scarfs. Through 2015 I made a couple of jumpers and they’re even more satisfying to wear than scarfs, and I get an even bigger glowing feeling inside when people compliment the garment, unaware it was made by myself.

    Flamingo jumper. It might be mad and colourful, but so am I.
  4. Make more things for other people. Every now and then I go through a ‘I’m going to cross stitch all the birthday cards’ phase. You can completely customize it to be aimed at them and their interests, and they love that you spent to time on it for them. Maybe this year I’ll do it more consistently. Handing over a scarf you’ve knitted yourself, or something you’ve made and designed based on something they said? Even more gratifying.

    Violin card.jpg
    Birthday Card for a friend who likes a good fiddle!
  5. Revise old techniques. This week, I found a way to make a purl stitch without leaving a big hole in what I’m making. I’m a little bit embarrassed I was living with the way I was doing it and didn’t think to correct myself earlier in all honesty. Just because you already know how to do something doesn’t mean it’s the best way.

Well, that’s about it for today. See you next week!

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