Sunday, October 30, 2005

Closer view

Closer view
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

This is what I added. Slightly out of focus - my camera will only do 0.2m and I'm not a good judge of distance - obviously hehehe Thought I'd do those photos again in the daylight this time so the colours are acurate this time. I had great fun doing this and will be doing more shisha probably on my bags fof fun bag which I must get on and finish - deadline Nov 8th and also on the Christmas Ornies.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Closer view of my work on Mary's block

Closer view of my work on Mary's block
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Two 12 year old girls (more to follow?) are sending cq blocks around the world for a group of internet cq friends of their mums' to embroider and embellish. Hopeing to plant seeds for future crafters in the next generation :) Visit CQ Crazy for more details and pictures :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Not much going on

I keep saying I have had no time for craft, but I have done these few bits over the past week. Remember the Noro wool? Well, it is now a Noro scarf. The colours are just delicious and I am tempted to keep this one for myself :)

I also finally got round to sewing up the little jumper for X, my foster daughter, the Swiss Darning is my first attempt at decorating a jumper this way and it came out ok, I think. The coverage on one of the colours wasn't complete but it looks lots better than the other way I tried to do it , intersia(sp?), which was so bad I unpicked it and gave up!

Yes, it is a little big - but hey, she'll grow into it :) Why do I have so much trouble sewing up knitting? Had to unpick this one and redo the setting in of the sleeves, when I did it first time one came down to the bottom of the purple stripe and the other was level with the top. Doh! This is why I like making scarves so much! No sewing up! If someone would like to start a knitting 'making up' service I would happily send them all my finished, but unassembeld projects.

I also made my October block for the 'friendship block swap'. This has been a great year long project, making one block each month for the other 11 people in the group. At the end of the year each person will have 12 blocks (one they make themselves) of their choice. I asked for red school house blocks. Helbel wanted bears so I made her this block

called a Belly Button Bear. Only one more block to do (other than my own) and then it will be time to make up the quilt top.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Over at Chloe's Place there's some stash flashing going on :) So I'm using that as an excuse to show you some of the other things I bought on thursday. Firstly, I should say 'yes, the threads are Linen'.

Bought some delicious Noro wool 'blossom'
had to go back today for another ball!

Also used my new clover mini iron for the first time doing sone applique with freezer paper, it is wonderful, need never singe my fingers again :) wish I'd bought one sooner, worth every penny - I'm not on commission ROFL

Talking of applique - it was for my friendship block swap (October) - cutting it fine AGAIN! But finishing the block means I am now solely devoted to finishing the bags of fun bag.

After that I am into cq land with christmas ornies and then lovely Angel dollies, then I am stopping and not doing any more swaps - until the next time. In the meantime I am also sewing on Joma's DD's cq block and I posted my DD's blocks yesturday too. The story of these new CQers can be found here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Retail Therapy

Bah humbug, just typed in a lovely long post all about my hectic week and the chaos planned for next week and lost it when adding a link to my retail therapy Ring a Rosie. This is the only website I could find for this lovely little shop and it is misleading (sorry) the shop has moved to larger premises at 169 Park View, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. If you ever get to this neck of the woods do visit, lovely ladies will make you most welcome and you can see where I spend all my money :) I do like to add a picture to my rantings if I can.

I am going to get an armchair in the window and sit and sew (the light will be better there). I can do the odd knitting project for variety too and I don't mind if they keep them as samples as I will be using their materials free of charge, of course. Bliss, no kids, no telephone, no social workers or fostering panels or ANYONE apart from me and my sewing. Sigh! Yes it HAS been that sort of week!

Among the other (many other) things I bought (well, I needed lots of therapy!) were these delicious DMC threads which I will be, I SAID WILL BE, finding time to use any day now!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Winnie Again

Winnie Again
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Started the embroidery, did my first shashi (sp?) mirror, couched on some gold braid and started the planets ans stars in stranded floss, stem stitch to deliniate the sleeve.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

DD's number 2 block

DD's number 2 block
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

This is the second of two blocks made for DD to send off round the world to be embellished for her. I am hopeing this will 'plant seeds' to be harvested later. DD is 12 yrs old.

The other block is here

Saturday, October 15, 2005

On Thursday I hosted a 'Knit In' at Wallsend library. This event was part of a series of different events around Britain to highlight knitting and was just a small part of
national knitting week.

Other than listing the 'Knit In' on the website and putting a few posters in our local library branches I hadn't done much to publicise the day (well couple of hours). Until I got there and set up my display table and free wool and patterns I wasn't sure if I would sit there alone or not. I figured the worst that could happened was I'd get two hours uninterrupted knitting done (bliss) with maybe a few odd looks from the punters, but people in libraries aren't too hostile, are they?

Anyway shortly after I arrived so did Valerie (thank you) from the
the Knitting & Crochet Guild. She'd seen the details on the website and decided to "come and have a look at me". I am very glad she did! Not only did we have a lovely couple of hours chatting about knitting and our recent projects and disasters, but Valerie is also much more knowledgeable about local events and meetings so she was able to give people information about other places knitters meet regularly.

We weren't exactly inundated, but we did remind a few ladies that they used to "do a lot of that when I was younger", also we gave out several patterns and balls of wool and I taught someone to crochet. It was worth it for that alone, in my opinion and the lady in question went away very enthusiastic. I could see her across the library crocheting away as she waited to check her books out. So, I am glad I did it, although I can't for the life of me remember what possessed me.

I originally saw the week mentioned in one of the UK's 2 hand knitting magazines,
Knitting. this magazine started off as a bimonthly and has now gone monthly. Initially it had lots of what I would class as difficult patterns with complicated charts in but now has a better mix of beginners and intermediate patterns too.

A while later another magazine came on the scene. This one, Simply Knitting, is much more aimed at a younger audience and at beginners. It has lots of nice quick patterns (the kind that appeal to me).

Being a sucker for magazines I subscribe to both - well I can't miss an issue can I? Both mags have yarn reviews of all the lovely new wools on the market and the Knitting one has run a couple of really good general patterns for kids jumpers with instructions on how to adapt and vary them for different effects. I am really pleased that knitting is fashionable again, one common complaint from older knitters is that when they make things for younger people they wont wear them anyway so why bother. Well, maybe they'll wear them now, so get those needles clicking. By the way, I don't wear jumpers - they're too hot. But scarves
gloves, socks, bags, throws, jackets, kids jumpers, etc. etc. These I do knit. I like the scarf pattern so much I've made three now :) so if you're a female relative, guess what you're getting for Christmas this year!

The other good thing about Valerie being there was that I brought hardly anything home. She was able to take all my old patterns and odd balls of wool as the guild has an archive of patterns and she collects the wool for teaching sessions they do and for making items to sell for funds for the guild. I was very happy to pass on some of my treasure trove from Nancy that I know I'll never use.

To finish my knitting post I thought I'd give a couple of new blogs on the subject which haven't made their way into the sidebar links yet but will when I do some housekeeping. The first is (sorry, you'll have to copy and paste this link as I couldn't get it to work) by Jillian in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Jillian is also thinking about magazines at the moment. Another is Kerrie's Place. Kerrie is a UK knitter and her blog has a long list of other knitting blogs in her sidebar, so many places I have yet to explore.

Just off my needles a jumper for little X, just needs sewing up, now you know that means it might be ready some time next year as this is the part where I loose interest and wander back to my CQ.

Christmas Ornament Naked blocks

Christmas Ornament Naked blocks
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Started my Christmas Ornament swap this afternoon by making these naked blocks to embroider and embellish. I haven't decided yet what shape the ornaments will be but thought I'd make a start at least, so I can sit and sew in the evenings this week.

I think the colours may be a little stronger than I envisaged initially, I got carried away with my cream and gold theme when I went to the fabric stash! Maybe sticking to more creams would have lent themselves better to gold embroidery and beads etc. Pondering whether to go for other colours too or to 'fight' with the stronger colours and stick with the cream and gold. Perhaps I'll do one of each and see how they turn out :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Here to remind you is the original Winnie, I decided to age her by making the figure more stooped and to develope the 'solar system' into a 'theme' for the embellishment. So she is the mother of all things, eternity, life and death, rebirth, the cycle of things. Pretty hard to embroider! I wanted to take the feeling of the many colours from this figure too but it didn't work out that way :)

Wise woman, Winnie

Wise woman, Winnie
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Winnie. This initial sketch for my wise woman figure (pencil) is now part of my first design folder/ sketch book. Hopefully you will be able to see in the sketch some of the plans for embellishments, although I am sure they will evolve in the execution. I initially pieced a block of many different coloured fabrics for the figure but found this very confusing so simplified it right down to a single piece of fabric and will leave all the decoration to the sewing.


Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

This picture is the initial sketch for the maiden on my bag. I have made several changes, as you can see. Most noticably my finished maiden has no features. But the basic fabric shapes were traced from this drawing onto tracing paper and then used to cut out the fabric. The drawing is now stuck into my first design folder/sketch book with the other pieces for the bagsof fun bag and a brainstorming diagram for the all that Jazz cq project.


Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Here is the beginning of my wise woman. The base for embellishment, The fabric is attached using vilene (note image reversed from original drawing). This figure is not padded like the others but will be more heavily embellished than they are. I wanted to use a dark colour originally, black or purple or dark blue to symbolise space/sky but this would not have shown up well on the black denim so I went for the red. The base needed to be a strong colour and I suppose red symbolises other things :)


Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Here is the layout of the reverse of the bag showing the completed Maiden figure and the start of the Wise woman.

Monday, October 10, 2005

DD's first CQ block

DD's first CQ block
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

The first of two blocks DD is making to send of on a CQ journey. Big patches, so plenty of space to work on and bright - you may need your sunglasses!

Please pardon the poor photo - when I took it I intended to crop it. But my software is tempremental and sometimes will not save the edited image so after several attempts I had to settle for the unedited version or nothing. Should have tidied up before I took the photo, but hey, you have me as I really am - a slob!

A new CQ adventure

I am taking part in CQing on a block for the daughter of an online friend. When the block arrived my own DD was very interested so I asked on the forum if anyone would be willing to take part in CQing a block for DD. Would they? Oh yes :) Aren't crafty people lovely? I feel very privileged to part of this community at the moment. So warm fuzzy glow going out to all.

Here is what is happening. There are 9 CQers so if I add to one of the blocks (she says I'm only allowed after it has been to everyone else Rolling Eyes) that will be 5 in each group. I originally only intended to make one block but as there was such a good response someone suggested making 2 so that DD could make a bag with the results.

Here is what I suggest, anyone who can see any flaws please chip in, ok?

DD will make 2 naked blocks
each will have it's own log book
a list of who it is going to
a map of Aus and NZ for people to add their locations to so she can see where it has been (thanks Maureen Laughing)

Each person has 1 month from the day their block arrives to add something and pass it on, make a note of the day it arrives in the log book to remind you and the day it leaves so we can see how long it took to make each step of it's journey. Also adding the usual log stuff of what you added and why, etc.

Each person should do roughly 1/6th of the block max. or one patch and one seam min. for their contribution.

if you cannot add anything at that time (life gets in the way sometimes Rolling Eyes) then please send the block to the next person and make it clear if you want them to send it on down the list after they have worked on it, or send it back to you.

Please post on the forum thread when you receive and again when you pass on the block. Plus any other chat you wish to add (Smile)

As 5 months is a long time for a 12 year old to wait (embarrassed) please post photos to (or email them to me) if you can, so DD can see what is happening to her blocks. In return I will post a photo of the finished bag once we have made it up on it's return.

I will also blog the bags journey on my blog so if you want to see where the block is check in there.

Once again a huge thank you to you all. I am very pleased (under statement) with the response and looking forward to our adventure (Laughing)

DD and I will be making the blocks this week and hope to post by the weekend, and then we're off!

DD has dabbled in lots of crafts, as I'd hope for age 12 :) but is yet to find anything that really grabs her attention. Plenty of time, no rush. But even if CQ turns out not to be her thing (and yes I will be twisting her arm in the meantime) she will have something to treasure for the rest of her life. The idea that people who you do not know, from the other side of the world, are prepared to give of their time, creativity and skill to make something for you is very precious, and I hope will foster in her a sense of belonging to the community of crafters to which I am proud and pleased to belong.

I learnt to knit and sew from my mother and to crochet from my Gran, I wonder what my DD will remember me teaching her to do?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogging and BLOGGING

I want to develop my blog so I have joined the group

Click to join bloggerswhoembellish

Anyone else who does cq and is learning to blog might want to have a look at this group where they can ask questions and find help and encouragement.

Friday, October 07, 2005

why I knit

Anyone wondering why I knit should read today's post at zeneedle - so now you know - I do it to keep the world stable!

Waste canvas and cocoons

Hi :) just a quick clarification for those who haven't used waste canvas.

Waste canvas is a kind of mesh which you tack onto non-evenweave fabric to enable you to sew the Xs of cross stitch. Once it is tacked in place you sew the cross stitch through the mesh, using the holes in the mesh to place your stitches, and through the host fabric at the same time. When you have finished your Xs, damped the waste canvas and pull the threads out one at a time. The crosses are left behind as part of the host fabric the mesh has gone, and it looks like you sew really neat tidy little crosses by magic :)

Ideal for adding cross stitch to any fabric (denim?) not otherwise suitable for cross stitch. I think the threads are held together by starch (read that somewhere) but whatever it is they are quite sturdy and will not pull out by accident.

Small designs are easier to remove the threads from but I found it quite straight forward on both those I tried. Having a pair of tweezers would make pulling the threads out even easier, I didn't have any, so raided the tool box and used my pliers! Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that.

Now the cocoons. Well, the mother figure was the first I thought of and then the crone but I couldn't get past the witch with green skin and a warty nose! I knew that wasn't what I wanted but couldn't picture anything else. So, I went ahead and did my mother and the maiden and then Belle very kindly showed me several images of more 'mature' ladies. We both liked the one I posted the other day. Especially the universe she has in her belly! Belle put it a lot more poetically, but it is about death and rebirth and being the beginning and the end of all things, all very metaphorical. The idea of a cocoon fits in beautifully here too, Maureen, as that process of metamorphosis, and the cycles of life are all part of the art of this universal mother.

My 'only' problem now is, of course, how to realise this being in fabric (scratch head and go for another cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, I am madly knitting to be ready for the library 'knit in' on Thursday coming and part of me hopes no one shows up and part of me dreads that no one will show up! After all, I don't want to sit there on my own, do I? Or do I? Wish you girls could all come for the afternoon! Bring your knitting!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Belle says the link didn't work (don't ask me, I don't know!) so I saved it to my pc and then uploaded into my flickr and blogged it from there. For some reason it wont enlarge (again, don't ask) so if you wish to see it in all it's glory visit it at
if that works.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The ages of women

Must be my week for being thoughtful! Pondering on SharonB's comment on my corn/wheat I guess I am 'lacking' a symbol for adult women who are not mothers, but then we do not have to give birth ourselves to the children we 'mother', nor do the 'children' have to be young or even human. When I was married I seem to recall I ended up with 4 children even tho' I only gave birth to 3! And now that I am a foster mum I have 4 again although 1 is not genetically mine; she is still a true member of my family and I do still mother her. And as for the cats - well you get the picture.

Now, in place of actual sewing (!) I thought I would share the inspiration for my wise woman. Belle very kindly shared some images with me as a starting point for Winnie. My grandma's name is Winnie (Winniefred) and she is my wise woman so Winnie it will be. However she looks nothing like the image Belle showed me - well not on the outside at least.
or if that doesn't work copy and paste this link into your browser

So now I really must get going only a month to go before the end of the challenge and still so much to do.

Monday, October 03, 2005

x stitch is ...

I was discussing waste canvas and cross stitch with Linda of chloe's place and it led me to wondering how I feel about cross stitch. A little background. I started cross stitching when my children, now 15, 13 & 12 were little. In those days small portable projects which didn't require too much attention at the end of a long day were ideal. Cross stitch has the same meditative quality for me that plain knitting has. I always undertook quite large projects too, for weddings and christening presents and birthdays. My preference was for designs with poinient sayings appropriate to the occasion.

Some of these early works included apache wedding blessing and My child sampler which were just right for the recipients, I also started and 4/5ths finished :) the poem for the red hat society - must finish that one day! Of course I did the usual Christmas cards and pincushions as well.

This year my enthusiasm for cross stitch was rekindled by some members of the forum discussing their stitch along project for 2005, sleeping beauty. This project was begun in January and I have done no more since:( Various things prevent it's completion - none of them insurmountable. I just have yet to surmount! The eavenweave is tiring on the eyes, I need better illumination, the stand and threads etc. are annoying to take out and put away each evening and the colours are so close together that it requires a huge amount of attention to sew which I do not have at the end of the day. The chart is very small and I haven't gotten around to enlarging it. Plus, and this is the main distraction, I have moved on to other things :)

So my question is, notwithstanding the difficulties of larger projects, is cross stitch 'cheating'? Some cross stitch is very beautifully and carefully executed to be sure. It involves techniques for starting so that both threads lie in the same direction of twist, there is tramming to consider and the use of laying tools etc. but in the end no matter how carefully and time consumingly done the aim seems to be to repeat as exactly as possible someone else's design. Indeed often the designs are replicas of other media, paintings and the like, interpreted in cross stitch.

I always felt that compliments about my cross stitch were undeserved, after all anyone who can count can cross stitch, can't they? Now anyone following a pattern, in quilting, patchwork or embroidery uses the design of somebody else as a starting point, but variations in materials, skill, and the adaptations of the seamstress will generate differences from the original which become the essence of the new piece. Cross stitch seeks to be identical with the model, using the same threads and the stitch throughout. Of course this is probably a generalisation, some stitchers will use the closest threads they have to hand or go to the extremes of having hand dyed fabrics but generally I do not think this is the case, at least not in my experience.

My question really is about what I have found in returning to embroidery, after all the years I spent cross stitching, that I did not find in cross stitch itself. Partly to be sure, it is me who is different, my circumstances which have changed. But the cross stitch with waste canvas has a raw edge to it which that on Aida cannot have, by the way the stitches are formed, not through the exact hole each time. The choice of motif, the threads used, the placement are all purely that of the sewer, no third party designer dictates.

Overall it does not matter one jot. We all sew for different reasons and go where our likes and dislikes take us. At the time that I used every spare hour to cross stitch then that was what I needed to do, but I am so happy to move to new territory and even happier to feel that I can take some of what I learned there and continue to use it in CQ. Thank you Linda :)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Corn is high and sun is shining

Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

The sun was with 2 strands anchor threads, the ears of corn with three, making them more prominent and bringing them into the foreground. Stems will be added. This was my first use of waste canvas and I like it :) despite having to use a pair of pliers to pull the threads out due to not having any tweezers! Very delicate lady like activity - everyone should have at least one pair of pliers in their sewing box - don't you think? Now thinking of other motifs to add to other figures - better get cracking on the wise woman she has been gestating long enough!

Learnt a couple of things during this - three strands works better than two, wet waste canvas unpicks much easier than dry, use different shade with more contrast to make them stand out. The sun actually has three shades of yellow not two but two of them are very close so they don't 'read' as different. The 'corn' is in a mixture of two and three strands, three at the front two at the back with the stronger yellows to the front and less strong behind. The red french knots represent poppies and the blue crosses cornflowers.

Mother and child progress

Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

Cross stitch on waste canvas added to bags of fun bag.