Vintage shopping

Steven and I spent a lovely day last Saturday in Brighton. We wandered round and round and in and out of lots of little boutiques, galleries, and craft and design shops, which Brighton seems to have by the bucketload. We also hunted through lots of the antique-vintage-junk shops and came home with some interesting purchases.

I know it doesn’t look like much now (particularly in this photo) but I have big plans for this workbox. I’m going to strip it down, re-paint it, polish it up and replace the fabric lining. Once it’s done, I think it will look really good alongside the vintage sewing machine.

Vintage workbox

We haven’t decided where we’re going to hang this next find, yet. I think it would add a nice little touch of colour to our black and white bathroom and it would certainly be appropriate in there! Steven seems to be pushing for it go somewhere a bit more prominent but I’m not sure I’m up for that.

Vintage Ex-Lax advert

We also picked up a box of Christmas decorations. They are not terribly posh or fancy but they are a bit jazzier than our usual decorations and have really brightened up the tree.

Christmas baubles

Speaking of vintage decorations, look what else has found its way on to the tree this year:

Knitting Christmas decoration

Christmas cards 2010

I mentioned last weekend that I had made a prototype for this year’s Christmas cards but didn’t include a photo. The reason for this was that the best photo I had taken of it looked like this:

Prototype for card

For me, prototypes really are prototypes. They are the first attempt to see if it is even remotely possible to physically create something that in any way resembles the vision in my head and maybe, if I’m really lucky, work out some of the initial kinks in the process. Believe it or not, in my world, this is a photo of a highly successful prototype.

However, since I doubted that anyone would find that photo terribly interesting or inspirational and thought that most people would probably pity my poor family and friends for having such ugliness inflicted upon them, I thought I would wait until I had moved past the prototyping stage and made at least one finished article.

Hand-stitched Christmas card

Doesn’t that look better?

(In a fit of craft-related productiveness, I even managed to remember to take photographs of the process and have put up a tutorial on Yellow Ginger showing how it’s done.)

The things we do for love: part 2

Argyll Jumper - finished

The Argyll vest is finally finished. Actually it’s been finished for ages. It has proven difficult to get pictures of it though due to the fact that it has been worn almost constantly. (You would think that might make it easier to get pictures but apparently not.)

Argyll Jumper - finished

The duplicate stitch was surprisingly easy to do and I found the precise, repetitive nature of it very soothing. Putting together a tutorial on how to do it has been added to my increasingly long list of “things I want to do but have no idea when I’ll get around to it”.

Unfortunately, the recycled cashmere jumper that formed the first part of “The things we do for love” has never been worn. I picked up too many stitches around the armholes and, when worn, they flare in an extremely dramatic fashion (think bad 70s sci-fi costuming). My plan is to rip them out, pick up fewer stitches, double the yarn and use larger needles. Hopefully this will mean that they won’t take quite as long to knit this time around.

Exceedingly nice notions

Sewing notions rather than knitting notions, for a change.

Steven and I visited the East London Design Show in Shoreditch last night and loved the sewing notions from Merchant and Mills.

Sewing notions

The quality of the packaging and design is at least matched, if not exceeded, by the quality of the notions themselves. The sidebent tailor’s shears, in particular, feel absolutely amazing.

Sewing notions

Unfortunately, the gift box of notions and the shears are going to be a Christmas present for someone who isn’t me so I don’t get to keep them. I did treat myself to some proper tailor’s chalk but might have to pay their website a visit to stock up on some other bits. (You can never have too many pairs of really good scissors, right?)

There are lots of other awesome designers at the show (Steven managed to do most of his Christmas shopping in just one evening) so it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. (You can get a 2-for-1 entry voucher by signing up for the mailing list on the show website.)

Quilts at the V&A

Despite living in London and being surrounded by posters advertising exhibitions and events that I want to attend, I’m very bad at actually getting around to going places. I did however manage to go and see Quilts: 1700 – 2010 at the V&A before it closed at the beginning of July.

As a beginner quilter with just a single patchwork block under my belt, I was inspired, over-awed and somewhat reassured by the exhibition. If it took 17 years for an eighteenth century master tailor to complete a quilt in just his evenings and weekends, there is hope for me yet. (We won’t talk about my reaction to the beautifully embroidered map of the English counties that had been completed by a nineteenth century 10 year old.)

I preferred the older quilts in the exhibition, those that were produced as quilts rather than as “Art”. I love modern art but apparently not when I go to see a textile exhibition. I think my favourite though was one of the modern ones, “Punctuation” by Sarah Impey. There’s a picture of it in this article or you can view more of Sarah’s work on Quilt Art. Given my blog name, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that my favourite combined both words and stitches!

At the time of my visit, I resisted the urge to buy anything from the shop but, as you may have guessed from the pictures, that didn’t last. As a treat for myself for passing another actuarial exam (11 down, 4 to go!) I bought a pack of quilting fabric. The fabrics are limited edition prints created for the V&A by Liberty based on details taken from some of the exhibited quilts.

The pack I bought has 36 pieces in 18 patterns and while I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with them yet, they’re certainly brightening up my dining table!

Wishing I was in San Francisco

Mainly so that I could visit the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Art and see the Geometric Threads — Artisanal Takes on Pattern, Dimension, and Topology exhibit. From the website:

Explore tessellation through patterns found in quilts, Hawai’ian kapa cloth design, and Moroccan mosaic tiles. Untangle the intricacies of topology looped inside maritime knots and Korean maedeup. Move between dimensions with basket weavers, clothing designers, and upholsterers, and learn how origami artists transform flat shapes into fully realized 3D forms. Discover how similar shapes can give rise to a diversity of artistic expression, from Japanese temari to European lace and crochet.

Through master presentations, skilled artisans illuminate the mathematics inherent in mosaics, origami, and textile arts practiced across the globe.

A combination of mathematics and crafts … sounds like just my kind of thing.

Pretty Pink Pincushion

Wrist band pincushion

This is quite possibly my favourite sewing project so far — pretty, pink and practical.

Wrist band pincushion

It is a simple square cushion sewn to a wristband that fastens with velcro.

Wrist band pincushion

I needed something quick and simple to regain my confidence using my sewing machine since I have a couple of large projects that I’ve been putting off. I think this has done the trick!

Wrist band pincushion