Knitting with rags

IMG_5597

 

The inspiration for this piece came from my fabric tour of London and Shanghai in 2016. If you’re interested in that trip (it was so good!), you can read all about that   here    

The short version is that inspiration came from everywhere and the seed for this little number was first planted when I stepped into the Cloth House in Soho and was blown away by the raw beauty of the fabrics made of natural fibres. I have always been a fan of the ‘natural fibre ‘ but there was something about the way they were displayed in the Cloth House that took my love to a whole new level.

 

1466088208664
The Cloth House Soho, London

 

1466069118968

The Cloth House Soho, London

Now as odd as this may seem, my other source of inspiration was the Florence Nightingale Museum in London,  www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/ 

Just in case you don’t know, the Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the world’s most famous nurse. Many say  Florence Nightingale invented nursing. She did in my book.

Florence-Nightingale

Image of Florence Nightingale- unknown source

Anyway, why was I inspired by this museum? Well the truth is I’m not really sure. My thought process went along the lines of…….

I wonder if the nurses who served in the Crimean War ever had any time to do craft? I wonder what sort of craft they would have done if they did have time……and if they did, how would they have sourced materials?

You see, I cannot imagine a life without craft because for me, craft is the  fuel that keeps me going. And the more difficult life is, the more of that fuel I need. So projecting, I wondered, how could those nurses have kept going the way they did unless they had fuel? I know I couldn’t have so what would I have done?

I searched every image in that museum to find something that I might have used for materials to make things with. And the thing that really jumped out at me was the bandages (not that there was ever an abundance of bandages, as far as I am aware, in any of the wars)……..but what could you do with bandages? Well you could knit them of course!

Now this is in no way meant to be flippant or insensitive.  I am in awe of the nurses and the unbelievably selfless contributions they have made to all wars. This was simply about craft and inspiration, in isolation from the reality of war.

Knitting with rags

So, armed with an idea and plenty of downtime on our fabric tour, I bought  size 10mm needles and some cheap white cotton fabric. Before I started the project, I sat in my hotel room in London after dinner one night, glass of wine in hand, and ripped the fabric into strips and then tied them together. I decided I wanted to add some texture to the overall look so I collected all sorts of bits and pieces to add to the mix. The only criteria was the material had to be white….ish.

IMG_1666IMG_1665

 

IMG_5595

IMG_1667IMG_1671

IMG_1663

The result?

IMG_5613

IMG_5614

My thoughts

I love this top but I found making it, hard work. This was because it was heavy, even on a circular needle, and despite the fact it was all garter stitch,  it made my hands ache. Because it is cotton, the lack of give also added to the heaviness. That’s why it took so long to finish it. I mean, I loved the look of it and loved watching it grow but it wasn’t a comfortable project. It’s also a little heavy to wear so will definitely be a Spring/Autumn addition to the wardrobe. I deliberately left the knots visible because I wanted to retain that raw look.

Would I make another one?

Absolutely!!! I’ve started all ready. This time I am using muslin, dyed in cherries (yes cherries). And it feels much much lighter and more comfortable on the hands. Fingers crossed.

IMG_5630

IMG_5514.JPG

I hope you have a lovely week, full of fuel.

Jane xx

Advertisements

The highs and lows of sewing, 2016

Mostly highs. I’d have to say this has been a milestone year for me, in terms of sewing. I think I’ve moved to the next level and I attribute this to social media……particularly Instagram which has really broadened my horizons. And for that reason I LOVE Instagram. It has been a great source of inspiration for me.

My first intro to Instagram….. and I don’t know how I’ve lived without it

IMG_2641.JPG

So how have I moved to the next level?

Its the first time I’ve drafted my own pattern.

img_2658

It’s also the first time I’ve got ‘the fit’ right for dresses for me....and that’s a huge first given I’ve been sewing for years. I will say it wasn’t easy. I unpicked until the cows came home but the result is these dresses which I am more than happy with with.

img_0812

img_1968img_0781

It’s the first time I’ve  tackled this  jacket.  I’ve been looking at it for years but avoiding it because I thought it would be too hard/too much work. Turns out it was relatively quick and easy  and I think the possibilities for this style are endless . The blue is linen and the straw jacket is made from a heavy upholstery fabric.

Of course the big first was the fabric trip to Shanghai and London with my friend Wendy. That was absolutely brilliant and the highpoint of my sewing year. AND ………..hopefully the beginning of a tradition for Wendy and me……..we had so much fun.

IMG_1676IMG_1386IMG_1757IMG_1749

IMG_1747

And of course there were the formal dresses.…..a first because it is the first time I have agreed to step outside the pattern……….very significant if you are a rule follower!!! I agreed to do all sorts of things to these patterns………not really me at all.

img_2391img_9799

Definitely the first time I have incorporated novelty prints into my garments.……and very effectively I have to say. I love them and will continue to use them. I love the fun side of fabrics.

Lets not forget the swimwear first.……..another whole story which I won’t start here but this was probably not one of my highest highs

IMG_2660.JPGsteph-cossieimg_2670

Another first that deserves a mention is knitting with fabric.OMG this is just so fun! That’s all I can say. I got the idea while on the London fabric tour and it’s something I would really like to develop. I think the sky’s the limit here. But I have to fess up that this is a UFO……..but also very much a current WIP and I have some great ideas.

IMG_1665IMG_1668

And not to forget the first time I’ve actively supported my daughter to try her hand at sewing….and with amazing results. She is very creative. Regrettably I am Mrs Rules so I struggle when she says but Mum I don’t need a pattern….it won’t take me long to make this top…all I need you to do is help me thread the machine. She was right. She made it in a couple of hours without a pattern and wore it that day. All I did was help thread the machine…..a learning curve for me!

img_2155img_2158And now for a 2016 sewing low.……...my overlocker was ‘found’ by someone in the carpark when I put it down for 5 minutes (hidden, I thought) behind the car. I hope they have lovely overlocked edges on their seams because  I don’t !

To summarise 2016 sewing for me…….a really big year that I enjoyed. What I have most enjoyed is the online sewing community of which I have become a part.  Thank you to everyone who has ever posted a sewing image on any form of social media. I have found it enormously inspirational and even exciting……..so much so that I try not to look at IG before I go to bed lest I should be so enlivened by a potential project that I cannot sleep!!!!! And that’s the truth.

On a very sad note….. my thoughts go out to David, husband of Katherine Scraper and her family. Katherine was better known in the sewing community as ….Pillows A-La-Mode.

pillows-a-la-mode

Katherine was an inspiration to me…….creative, resourceful, positive and clever and the sewing world has been enriched by her generous contributions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Australia to London to buy fabric? Seriously?

IMG_1750

Well…..yes and no. Sort of, but not really. This was our fabric tour of London and Shanghai….a tour all about fabric, haberdashery and sewing- not exactly a trip to  buy fabric….even though the two got a bit mixed up at times.

How did this come about?

Good question. Well, my friend Wendy and I sew…all the time…..and buy fabric……often….and talk sewing and dressmaking and patterns and Threads magazine and read blogs about sewing and follow other sewers on Instagram and meet for morning teas and lunches at fabric stores all over Sydney and go to craft fairs and compare notes on the episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee.

You get the picture.

Now Wendy is a seasoned traveller. Anyway, after her last trip to Asia, she said to me in passing (actually I think it was by text) , was thinking,  wouldn’t it be great to do a fabric crawl of London? Well. I had never even contemplated anything nearly as fun as this …………..ever! It was like Christmas when you are a kid sort of excitement. I wasn’t even sure Wendy really meant it. But I was there. Done. And before I could even text back YES YES YES, Wendy had the flights sorted!

IMG_1758

So we made a plan to meet every six weeks, at a fabric store somewhere (naturally) and nut out the details. I think we actually gave the Sydney fabric market a huge boost while we were planning the trip…….so that’s good for the economy!

stock-vector-vector-cartoon-of-two-women-talking-over-cup-of-coffee-75338104.jpg

What did we actually want to do there?

I’ll tell you. We were on a mission.  We were going to London to completely immerse ourselves in our craft. Fabric, patterns, haberdashery and everything else that is sewing related. We were unapologetic. This was an indulgence and we were hell bent on indulging ourselves every step of the way.

So to the itinerary. We pretty much left no stone unturned and made a list that included every sewing related place, thing or person we could think of. Lets’s see, there was Sew Over it London, the man outside Sainsbury’s (from Did you make That), Liberty of London, Goldhawk Rd, Savile Row, Walthamstow Markets, Greenwich Markets, MacCulloch and Wallis, the Button Queen etc etc etc.  If we’d heard of it, it was on the list!

IMG_1443IMG_1455IMG_1456IMG_1412

IMG_1743

The man outside Sainsbury’s

 

Then there was the other kind of fun. We knew we’d need some R and R after all that fabric shopping so we punctuated our ‘research’ days with more run of the mill entertainment like……………..

 

IMG_1755

and

 

IMG_1441.JPG

And then?  More ……IMG_1748hard…….

IMG_1749

work!!IMG_1751IMG_1746

IMG_1632.JPG

So did we enjoy it?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and speak for Wendy too. The answer is of course a resounding YES! We had a ball. We absolutely loved it. But what surprised me was that I loved it for reasons that I hadn’t really anticipated.

London

I absolutely loved London…..with a passion I didn’t know I had.  I mean, I’ve been there before but somehow this time it was different. Reflecting on what it was I loved,  I’d have to say it was the overall look and feel…..greyness (yes..the greyness), the tube, the colour of the Thames, the architecture, the traffic, the crowds, the mix, the fashion the busyness……the big city-ness of London. I just loved it. It was everything I had remembered but in such a compelling way. I somehow couldn’t get enough of it….and in a crazy sort of way it felt like home…….in a ‘where I belong’ sort of way.img_1687

Talking shop and learning

Do you have any idea how much fun it is to go for 2 whole weeks talking about everything ‘sewing and fabric’ and not have to wonder if you are getting boring? Can you imagine how liberating that is? OMG! We didn’t stop. we completely immersed ourselves in sewing heaven. Went for broke. We dined out every meal, (3 meals a day) had umpteen coffees and  drinks, walked thousands of kilometres and talked shop the whole time. Our enthusiasm didn’t wane for a second. And on the rare days that fatigue did get the better of us, we’d retire to our respective rooms for even more fun! Wendy would do her appliqué and I had my knitting! In my book, that’s pure indulgence.

IMG_1671

Inspiration

I won’t lie, I came home with plenty of fabric. But I came home with even more inspiration…..truckloads. I couldn’t begin to explain the fuel that that trip poured into my soul.  Surrendering to one’s craft so completely is a rejuvenating and gratifying experience and I benefitted enormously from it. I am full of plans, ideas, and sketches. From a creative perspective, I feel light years ahead of where I was when I boarded the plane. I’m not sure what the plans actually are but I know there is a lot more scope for me to develop as a sewer. Technically, seeing, talking and reading have inspired me to focus more on process. I aspire to improving my technique.

Can you get fabric in London that you can’t get in Australia?

I am very loyal to my fabric shops. The range of fabrics and the service I receive from Tessuti, the Fabric Store, Remnant Warehouse and Pitt Trading  is way beyond what I will ever need to satisfy my creative sewing urges.

But London was different….for obvious reasons, namely the climate and population and perhaps even proximity to European suppliers. You can get everything you need in Australia or online. But the range of fabrics in London was mind boggling! Breathtaking even, particularly the Winter fabrics. I have never seen the likes of the ranges of wools, wool crepes and silks that I saw in London. It was staggering- truly a sight to behold. And then of course there was Liberty! It was an experience just standing in Liberty of London and drinking in the wall to wall shelves of Liberty prints.

what about Shanghai?

That is such another whole big story that I will deal with that separately

Would we do it again?

We would like to run tours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting with rags- London inspiration

IMG_1663

I have so much to say about our London/Shanghai fabric crawl……..too much, really ..not sure where to start. So I’ll start with this…knitting with rags. Well, not exactly rags, but the guts  is certainly fabric that is torn into rag strips.

This is so much fun because it is a creative exercise where the sky is the limit. Anything goes!

IMG_1668

I started with a collection of white/cream braids and cottons. I think you can probably use anything really, as long as you can knit with it. I also bought 3 meters of light cotton fabric and tore it into rags one night in my hotel room (good time girl that I am…now you see why I had to travel with a fellow fabric diva…….normal people just don’t get it). I tied the rags together and rolled them into balls.

IMG_1669

I bought size 10 mm needles, cast on about 40 stitches in rag and the rest is history! Seriously, I couldn’t wait to get back to my room each night to do a few more rows! It’s just fabulous……it looks fantastic. I think it will be a top……..just a shapeless boxy top that will look a million bucks.

Thats the plan anyway but I may need to do a bit of shaping further down the track. I’ll see.IMG_1665The only hitch that I can see is convincing the airline to let me take the needles on board the plane……..I think I could finish it between London and Sydney.

36 hours later

Well I’m home and the top’s not finished. The airline wasn’t thrilled about needles on the plane ….even though they are more like broomsticks than weapons. Never mind.

Anyway I’ll keep going and if it doesn’t work out, there is one family member who was very happy to see me, and may just be able to find a use for the balls of rags when she’s finished with the cotton. I just love her gall…casually lifted the treasure  out of my suitcase and took it for a chew!

IMG_1760.jpg

 

 

Fabric tour- London and Shanghai

IMG_1386.JPGWell we’ve started. And our days are so busy I don’t really have time to blog. Or more precisely, I’m too tired to blog. 25000 plus steps on the Fitbit everyday and by the end of it, I’m fit for nothing other than sleep.  Above is the silk I bought in Shanghai. With Liberty of London next on the list, I picked up a couple of very pretty classics.

IMG_1414.JPG

IMG_1453.JPG

IMG_1452.JPGToday was Sew Over It, Clapham. This was up there with our ‘must visit’s and aside from the fact that we didn’t get to meet Lisa, it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_1446.JPGFrom the perspective of gaining inspiration, the Dover Street Markets were a find.

IMG_1423.JPG

I will have to think long and hard before I put pen to paper on this one but suffice to say, the couture pieces were something else….well worth a look.

IMG_1425.JPGAnd speaking of inspiration, the Suzie Turner Couture fashion parade at the Savoy, over delivered.

IMG_1440.JPGIMG_1439.JPGIMG_1436IMG_1437IMG_1430.JPGBut tonight, I will spare you the words…….I am too tired and tomorrow is going to be a big day fabric shopping! Goodnight.