Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Festival of Quilts 2018. . .

Last Saturday, I travelled down to Birmingham for the annual Festival of Quilts. I love this show - it's a sensory overload of talent, colour, texture and inspiration. There are over 1,400 quilts on display, plus a large marketplace, but with some comfy shoes and a packed lunch, you can cover quite a lot in one day. 

There were so many fabulous quilts on display but here's a tiny round-up of some that really caught my eye.  I'll start with my favourite of all the artist exhibitions - Pieces of My Life by Shizuko Kuroha.  She sews with mostly vintage indigo-dyed fabrics and her play with shape and colour is exquisite and mesmerising. 

Remembrance of Wind by Shizuko Kuroha

Cosmos II by Shizuko Kuroha

Gifts from the Sky by Shizuko Kuroha
She was attending the quilt show and as I was so impressed by her work, I just had to buy a copy of her book, which she signed for me.  It is such a beautifully designed celebration of her life and work, with some stunning photography and wonderful patterns, not only for many of the quilts, but for some smaller projects too, such as a lovely quilted drawstring bag that would be perfect for some knitting.

One of the best aspects of the show is the huge variety of quilting styles.  I will always enjoy seeing traditional quilts:

Sailing Home by Sue Faulkner

Twinkling by Regina Maier

Ruby Anniversary Celebration - Group Quilt by the Malvern Quilters

Hexagon Quilt 'La Passion' Challenge by Under-the Edge Quilters

Knit and Purl by Eleanor Birchell Hughes
Some quilts I loved for their colour palettes, others for their texture.

Retro by Sophie Zaugg

Green Thoughts by Amanda Jane Ogden and Alison Moore
Deep Blue by Paola Zanda

Japanese Zen Garden by Hanna Farquharson

There were modern and pictorial quilts:

Retorno Al Paraiso by La Flor Y Nata Del Patchwork 

Curled by Charlie Mankin

And the Sky Danced by Jean McLean

What a Relief by Brenda McDonnell

This quilt had an ecological message about our over-use of plastic.

Plastic Ocean by Kathy Unwin

And this quilt actually used plastic as its fabric.

Anthropogenic Wave by Kay McKiernan

Finally, this was another favourite - one of those quilts that looked even more amazing, the further you stepped away from it. The use of fabrics to create shading and colour was just incredible.

Forty Shades of Green by Ethelda Ellis

I dabbled in quilting long before I took up knitting again so I have . . . ahem. . . a rather large fabric stash in boxes under the spare bed. This show has inspired me to take up a multi-year project which I'll blog about in another post.  It's definitely a show to catch if you are ever near Birmingham in August. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Lovely Langdales. . .

Despite my many trips to the Lake District, last Sunday was my first time walking among the Langdale Pikes.  It's an area that my walking group regularly frequents (and now I know why!) but we had always been busy whenever it came up in the schedule.

And all I can say is WOW!  This is a post where really all the photos can speak for themselves - we had perfect weather and perfect views. It was a circular walk about 8.5 miles.

From the National Trust parking lot, it was straight up into the climbing, but on a very good, stony-stepped path.  You can see how popular this area is - almost all the paths we went on were well-maintained.

This is about halfway up looking back on the valley. The path follows Stickle Ghyll.

And ends up at Stickle Tarn.  At the opposite end is Pavey Ark and there is a diagonal scramble of a path called Jack's Rake. My partner went up that, but he was on the harder walk - I don't have a head for prolonged scrambling so was happy to just skirt the tarn.

We then started heading up Harrison Stickle with lovely views looking back on the tarn.  You can also see Lake Windermere in the distance.

At the top was time for a break and a bit of knitting. That little round knob of a hill in the middle is Pike O'Stickle which we headed for after lunch.

It looks a little bigger as you get closer.

This was one of those walks where you had spectacular views in every direction. Here on the top, you can just see the top of Great Gable disappearing into the clouds with Green Gable beside it. 

Looking back on Loft Crag.

We then descended over glorious moorland with spectacular views in every direction - you can see Skiddaw in the distance.

I love the dramatic play of light and shadow on the landscape. It was such a stunning day out in the hills.

We then came across these huge bags full of Herdwick fleece.  My guess is that it'll be used in much of the path repairs taking place in this area. The wool forms a good barrier between the bog and the stone path.

Finally we swerved around and returned back along this valley path.  Definitely a walk for the top ten list!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Too Hot to Blog, but not to Knit. . . .

July has come and gone and it's still hot and the UK still needs some prolonged rain.  How have you handled your urge to knit amidst the sweaty hands and a pile of wool sitting on your lap? I've been lounging under a leafy tree in my back garden and it's been fine, especially in the mornings. And, when I tote up what I've been working on last month, I've been surprisingly productive.  Probably because with the heat, I haven't had the energy to do more physical things, such as housework.  At least that's my excuse.  It probably helped too that I was glued to the telly for a good chunk of time - World Cup, Wimbledon and the Tour de France are all excellent opportunities for knitting. 

I finished my Anni and this cotton top has gotten a lot of wear.  It was really quick and fun to knit. I love how the colours work with each other, I used some deep stash and I still have several balls of the grey and olive so another top combining the two may be in the works. 

I made a few modifications including knitting an extra pattern repeat and also creating a split hem.  I really hate weaving in ends with cotton, so I left off the ribbing on the sleeves too - they had nice slipped stitch selvedges and I think it looks fine.  I did recently come across an excellent article by Kate Atherley on weaving in ends with a few techniques that I've not tried before, so if this is something you dread or procrastinate on, check it out here.

July was also the month of mystery knit/crochet-a-longs.  The Skimming Stones crocheted shawl is finished and this is my version.  I found each clue a bit similar each week so wasn't as engaged with it as I could have been.  I finished off the last bit - those ripples at the end - in the main colour rather than the mini-skeins as I just couldn't bear to weave in any more ends.

Ysolda Teague's Gloamin-Tide mystery shawl by contrast has been a completely engaging and intriguing knit.  I am just now finishing the last clue which is to fill in this square in the middle. I have certainly never constructed a shawl this way before and have thoroughly enjoyed working on this.

I still need more summer tops, so have cast on a Talavera from Pom Pom, Issue 13.  I am using an interesting yarn for this - the Scheepjes Woolly Whirl 4ply is a blend of cotton and wool and is a gradient with various marls in the colours. It comes in balls of 1000 metres, plenty to make this top but I will have to get a bit canny with matching the colours when I divide for the front and back.  Fortunately the colour changes are quite long but weaving in ends in lace is the worst! We'll see how this goes. . .

Look, two sleeves!!!!  These belong to Bressay, by Marie Wallin and are part of the Nature's Shades KAL from the Knit British group.  There are 22 rows of colourwork on each sleeve before you join it to the body and do the yoke.  Best motivation of all to get the boring bits of the sleeve done.  I'm now a few rows from finishing the body and hope to join them up next week.  Yarn is all from stash - the main colour is a luscious Wensleydale from John Arbon and I'm using bits of Zwartbles, and J & S Shetland Supreme for the other shades. 

And finally,  I am on the bottom hem of my Lotta dress.  I can't see the need for a woolly dress anytime soon, but this feels like an epic knit and I can't wait to get it off the needles.