Thursday, 24 May 2012

A secret commission - revealed

Many years ago , well at least 10, I bought my mother a bolt of pink silk from Thailand. Just her colours. 

Well it's taken her a while to make anything from it as she was waiting for a really special occasion. That occasion will occur later this year , when my youngest daughter will be the first of her grandchildren , to get married. So long before any of the rest of us, even the bride, had even though about what we might wear she started to design and make an outfit from the pink silk, and she asked me to make her a bag to go with it.

She sent me some of the silk I had given her and some of the deeper coloured silk she had bought for lining. What was she looking for I asked. "I leave that up to the designer" she said. OK there's a challenge. So I played around with samples of back merino and silk fibres and I ordered some Fushsia fibres. I eventually developed a kind of styled flower incorporating the lining silk and the fuschia fibres- see top left below.

What about the handles , always tricky for me when I make a bag . 

Then I had a kind of revelation. What about the bamboo handles that my mother  gave me . Vintage I decided, recycled from a 1950s bag,  although I could not ask as it would give away the plan.  They where not I now know. They were some kind of left over from a store room unwanted and unloved in 1979.  Any way a  starting point for a design.  And in this year of the jubilee,   a queenly, HRH Elizabeth II style. WAS it possible?  

So I made a mock up with fabric and a paper pattern, and I measured and I calculated the shrinkage with my calculator.  So much  planning I can't believe it.

Yes it could work. With great trepidation I started.  The whole extended planning process had made me nervous.  Crazy.   It is not even as though there Is any hurry as the wedding is not until October .

I think it worked. Here is the finished bag. Fit for a queen? 

The reaction of my mother , who is you must realize is the number 1 secret fan of this blog , is  ".... ."

Friday, 18 May 2012

Dying again

Well here I go dying again , and this time I can't be banished to the garden as I need to heat everything up to boiling point. I have a brand new, to me, pan to use bought for euro 2.50 from the local charity shop. 

So collect my BFL fleece, Shetland white snd grey fibre and merino fibre , merino half felt, silks, an alpaca yarn , some yarn of unknown origin or fibre , but wool I think and extra special lace weight Jamiesons shetland yarn .

Trial weight 80 g. Near enough to 100g for an engineer to be perfectly satisfied.

What colours to dye. Well I was very uncertain , especially when I thought how the planed second and maybe third dying would turn out. But in the end I I decided on scarlet ,yellow and green, 

Wet out fibre.
Place it in the pan. 
Bring to the boil, slowly , how slow is slow. 
I have no idea, but I think on my lowest setting it would never boil. 
So I turned it up to middling. 
After boiling turn off and sprinkle the dyes. 
Quite simple really!

All without dying the kitchen .

The first batch


The second batch is more muted

but still interesting.

The third is is all too muted for me and its  time to stop , before I dye any more of my precious fibres mouldy looking pinky grey.

Lot of felting opportunities ahead!.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

In pursuit of the perfect straight edge

My felt does not naturally made itself into straight edges. Free flowing might be a better description of my edges.  I need to take control.

It is actually very easy to make straight edges, just cut the felt when dry with a rotary cutter. I think that is so easy it can only be described as cheating and when you have done it there is whole feeling to a piece.  So how can i get a straight edge with our cheating.

I think a lot probably goes back to the original layout of the fibres past the point of the place were the edge is meant to be. These extra fibres should be fine and even and then edges must be turned to give any chance of a straight edge.

It's a really delicate balance.

Too much to turn , gives a thick edge which then tends to pleat up and the corners curl up like wings. Too little gives a nice wobbly lace effect. Care and attention, not my strong point, is needed I think right from the start. Why this not my strong point , is because i get too excited over my design in the middle of the piece and let the edges take care of themselves. 

Another problem I have found is use of prefelts distorting the edges. This is an example of what not to do.

The lower rock , did you recognize it , needs to be moved away from the edge , so the main body of the felt has enough strength to overcome the effect of differential shrinkage. I never thought of this until it happened. Complicated. 

Of course after drying pliers and steam ironing are useful to flatten straighten and disguise the manufacturing defects. As I type this I wonder if this might also be a new use for my redundant hair straighteners now I have let my hair return to its natural up kept state. 

Having thought this all through , I decided I would make a special edge piece. 
To try out calmly to make the best edges I could. 

My plan a piece of bunting , based on a scene from a Cambodian temple. Nothing to complicated you understand just the pattern not the dancing girls. Of course this was a ridiculous plan as I had to make three edges and a point, all needing mathematical accuracy ,and a pattern which had to reach just to the edges but not slip over.  I think a should have planned a single colour square.

Here it is.  A partial success I think. Edges 7/10 , point of triangle 3/10, pattern about 5/10.