Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A tiny cardigan for a tiny person

Our little Botterbean is due to make its world debut in early November - straight into an English winter -  so it'll be needing some little woollens to keep it snug.

Apart from a few granny squares, this is my first proper crochet project since learning to crochet a few months back. It is this pattern, although rather than getting lost trying to follow the pattern myself, I stitched along to this video. It's handy having someone show you what to do (although the sound does get annoyingly quiet at the sleeve stage). I think this is a great style, it's simple and stylish with its asymmetrical front and it isn't bogged down in all the froufrou you often get with baby clothes.

The yarn is acrylic, but very soft and is made up of strands of blue and green giving a bit of a tweedy effect. It says on the pattern that this cardigan is for 6-9months, but I wanted 0-3months, so I used a smaller hook (4mm) and it seems to have turned out the right sort of size. 

I stitched the body of the cardigan on sunday (until an onset of claw-hand forced me to stop) and I did the sleeves and finishing off on monday evening.

It's all a bit wonky, one of the sleeves is a bit bulgy and the edges aren't quite straight, but it has two sleeves, a neck hole and functioning buttons, so I'm counting it as a success!
I will definitely make this little cardigan again (hopefully improving each time!) I think this pattern would work very well in stripes...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday in the balcony garden

A sunny day spent pottering around on the balcony and enjoying the treetops-and-sky view with its impressive rolling cloud show.

The non-edible end of the balcony (visible from the bedroom) with my lovely hydrangea about to burst into bloom

The edible end of the garden. The yellow flowers are pak choi. I tried growing it for the first time this year and it bolted pretty qiuckly. I was going to pull it out but I thought I'd wait and see what the flowers looked like. Turns out they have these lovely sunny flowers that the bees are loving, so I kept them. I have still been able to pick the pak choi leaves for stir fries.

This is the bit of the garden I can see from our couch. Carrots on the left (first go at growing carrots), mint, strawberries, parsley and bolted pak choi, mega chives, nasturtium, dill, beetroot on the right (another first time attempt). And a two more varieties of mint in the right-hand foreground.

Sage, thyme, peashoots for salad, potato, tomato seedlings (three varieties) and our BBQ with its pound shop woven plastic bag cover! Salad bar on the right - three tiers of salad-y things, mainly bolted pak choi (with their lovely bee-attracting flowers) calendula which are yet to flower (the petals can go in salads) and fast growing mixed salad leaves (which we have eaten and I am yet to sow the next round)

Outside our kitchen window we have dwarf beans, cucumber and another potato plant (not shown). We've already eaten the first harvest of these beautiful purply-black beans and the next round is happily growing.

There's no danger of us canceling our weekly veg box delivery any time soon, but it is lovely to have all these herbs and other edibles close to hand, to watch them grow and to eat them minutes after picking (without worrying about air miles and carbon footprints). It's very satisfying.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Exhibition- Jennifer Anyan: Embodied Memories

This time last year, I was making some rather interesting unique shoes. Earlier in the year I had been approached by artist and stylist Jennifer Anyan to make a pair shoes for her upcoming exhibition Embodied Memories which was to be the first exhibition held in the new John Hansard Gallery Central on the site of the old Tyrrell & Green department store in Southampton, UK. Embodied Memories opened on the 9th of May and runs till 30th of June 2012.

Jennifer spent time recording people describing special items they had bought from the Tyrrell & Green department store as far back as the 1940s, and used these recollections to re-create their beloved items. My brief was very specific - a pair of children's party shoes in a very wide fitting made with silver leather and white leather lining, featuring a single strap with a white button closure, and leather soles with stacked leather heels. The interior of the shoe was to feature fairytale fantasy scenes, and one of the heels was to be a cathedral style window with a sky-blue interior, encasing three diamond-like crystals.

I started with a UK size 1 last. To make the very wide fitting, I glued layers of cork to the inside and outside of the joint area of the last (the widest bit) and filed them into shape. After that the upper was fairly straight forward patterncutting, clicking (cutting out the pieces in leather), closing (stitching it together) and lasting (stretching the upper over the last). I made a pre-finished leather sole, keeping the edges natural with a waxed shine.

The window heel was the real challenge. I cut the window shape from three layers of soling leather (the same number as I had used for the other normal stacked heel), glued them together and using a small file, smoothed the inner sides of the window. I cut the cathedral style window frame from some thin wood veneer using a sharp knife and cut a thin piece of acetate to size. I then stuck this leather frame to the leather sole and painted the interior of the window sky blue, added the Swarovski crystals (supplied by Jennifer Anyan) then secured the acetate, wooden window frame as well as a thin frame of leather into place. I then continued to shape the heel in the usual way on the grinder whilst keeping the window covered and protected. I will admit that I breathed a BIG sigh of relief once I attached the sole and window heel intact!

I sent the shoes to Jennifer along with a skin of the lining leather and a pattern for the sock (that's the bit of leather that lines the insole) for her to transfer her drawings of fairytale fantasy scenes. She sent it all back to me and I attached the decorated socks.

A big thank you to Jennifer Anyan for the opportunity to be part of this project and to make these one-of-a-kind shoes - they were an excellent challenge and I'm pleased with how they turned out. Next step is to get down to Southampton to have a look at the rest of the exhibition!

Embodied Memories runs until 30th June, Tuesdays - Saturdays, 11am - 6pm/Free.
John Hansard Gallery Central
Old Tourist Information Centre, 9 Civic Centre Road
Southampton City Centre

More info here.