It’s Dior, darling.

FOs (Finished Objects)

What’s been finished since my last post

  • RNG Baby Blanket
    Had fun with this little blanket in block stitch.  I had 4 colours (excluding the white defining line) so utilised a Random Number Generator via Alexa – “Alexa, give me a random number between x and y” works! – to decide which colour to use next.  I’ll be honest I ignored her if she told me to use a colour three times, but otherwise it was a fun technique to use.
Baby blanket

WIPs (Works in Progress)

Works actively being worked on – (not hibernating or we’d be here forever) including my PP (Purse Project or the project that is living in my handbag)

  • Spiderweb Skirt, Hook 5mm, Knit Picks Dishie in “EggPlant”
    Despite a perfect swatch I discovered (30 rows in) that my stitch and row gauge was off. Not just by a little bit – this ‘skirt’ was rapidly becoming a thigh warmer – or a skirt for someone a LOT slimmer than me. Ripped out and not had the courage to start again yet.
  • Due to various factors I had to go ‘deep hibernation diving’ for a couple of projects – these are projects that I haven’t worked on in (at least) 12 months, them having done the equivalent of having fallen down the back of the sofa after I got distracted by other projects. I dug out my Stephen West Spectral shawl and my Tirrold Sweater

Every Day’s a School Day

What I’m learning from my crafting this month..

  • There’s more than one way…
    The short rows and low stitch counts of Spectra has encouraged me to learn to knit and purl backwards. What was fascinating for me was how this is different to knitting left handed (I really hadn’t expected that!) But knitting left-handed twisted the stitches – so knitting left handed and knitting backwards really are two different techniques.
  • Tedium and perseverance
    lace weight 2×2 rib for 17 inches is boring and probably the reason this went into deep hibernation in the first place. However I am very close to finishing this long boring tube so just need to crack on so I can get to the cute lace section.

Bits of Sheep

Stash reduction or enhancement

Having signed up to a short course to explore some dying techniques this month, my stash has naturally increased by ‘some’ in order to have something to dye. But breaking out the deep hibernation projects means I’m also clearing a little bit out…

MonthBalls/Skeins InBalls/Skeins OutNet Balance
May515-10
June52-7

Oh Shiny…

The source of my startitis – for example planned projects , inspirations or ideas that have caught my eye or subjects or topics that have snagged my attention..

This month isn’t so much about yarn as about the heights craft can reach.  Sorry this is a long post and quite picture heavy, but I wanted to record all my thoughts for myself as well as for you.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Dior Exhibition on at the V&A in London – seriously, I was like Charlie Bucket on finding a golden ticket when I managed to score these and the show did not disappoint.  I am a lover of 1940’s and 1950’s vintage clothing and frequently dress in original vintage and reproduction garments and Dior to me is the epitome of this period in time.

Set across 10 rooms the show is staged to present this couture fashion in all its glory.  Each room is themed and presented in a different way, and with the exception of the 2nd and 3rd rooms, designers for the House of Dior are mixed together giving a really interesting overview of the individual designers and how the aesthetic of Dior is maintained.  Of course there were certain designers that have a very strong, identifiable look (Galliano I’m looking at you) but for others it was much more difficult to identify which were Dior himself and which were another designer.

The timelessness of the exhibit was also interesting – frequently dresses from a 20 year period were put together and it was very difficult to say which order they were made in and what time period.  Of course Dior has a very (to me) ‘vintage’ 1940’s/1950’s look – but Dior himself was drawing from ‘the Belle Epoque’ and using older historical fashion as his main influence and that was very apparent in the collections on display.  Also Dior’s love of flowers and gardens was much more obvious when viewed in groups of clothing.

The exhibit opens with the famous ‘bar suit’ which ushered in the new look and lots of personal artifacts, photographs and drawings.  I was fascinated to read that Dior had stepped on a (5 inch ish) metal golden star in the street and being very superstitious had seen it as a symbol of the good luck he was having at the time.  He kept the star with him, and in later years would reward his atelier’s excellence with a copy of the star – part of me wonders if this is not the origin of a gold star for achievement (though of course it could also have a military origin – I genuinely don’t know).

The second room is lit boxes of some of the most iconic silhouettes that he had leading into a bright room centered around Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress and lots of information about Dior opening shops in England and the partnerships he created with various companies to provide a brand that even the most ‘lowly secretary’ could buy into.  Room 4 was a look at his belle epoque styling with Marie Antoinette inspired lines and beautiful embroidery and beading work reminding me of Royal courts.

Next was a look at how Dior, and future designers, were influenced by travel and incorporated elements from their explorations.  This was inspiring for me to see how architecture, colour and ritual was incorporated into designs. The flavour of the country being apparent without being obvious was really interesting and I know I need to cogitate on what that means for my own designing process.

The “Travel Room” was quite a darkly lit room with black plinths and floor and you exploded from this into a bright white room with thousands of paper flowers cascading from the ceiling.  I’m sure they were adding Dior perfume into the air in this room and to echo the room decoration all the dresses in here had something to do with floral decoration – from a short, strapless dress decorated to look like a single tulip flower to the Miss Dior dress covered in millions of tiny hand sewn organza bud flowers.  This room contained some of the most beautiful dresses of the collection for me.

A short passage linked to some of the more recent designers, where echo’s of patterns and designs could be seen as well as some of the more outre Galliano designs.  This was another ‘dark’ room to show off the sequins and beading better.

This lead into a stark white ‘design’ room – stacked with toiles.  For the readers who don’t sew, a toile is a mock-up of a design made in cheaper fabric (often white cotton) to make sure of fit and drape as well as placement of appliques and buttons etc..  This room for me was mind blowing as there were so many toiles and designs it was easy to see both the detail of the work (the fine darts and pleating and draping of the fabric) but also how a tiny change completely altered a design – encouraging me to try more different things in my own designing but also in my own wardrobe, for example swapping a belt for a different colour or width. In the photos below you can see the toile (complete with paper appliques) and the finished garment

After the bright clinical starkness of this room a darker corridor containing a rainbow diorama of ensembles was almost overwhelming.  Starting with white and fading beautifully through the colour wheel to black everything from hats, shoes, jewellery, dresses, handbags (and oddly knee pads) were on display opposite some of the Dior magazine covers through the years.  I particularly loved the mini mannequin models of the dresses in this display – perfect scale models of dresses on display elsewhere in the collection, standing about 12” (30cm) high.

This corridor ended in a startling large circular space with a ceiling changing through sunrise to cloud spotted day to sunset and night with shooting stars.  A slowly turning pedestal in the centre displayed 10 or 11 dresses and around the outside were evening dresses ranging from perfect simplicity to dramatic impracticality – including several dresses worn on red carpets recently, along with photos of the stars wearing them.

As you left, overwhelmed and senses drenched in variety, techniques and colour there was a final single mannequin of a dress designed by the current head designer which was beyond doubt ‘a Dior’ echoing the full skirts and vintage feel of his original designs and inspired by a 1950’s vintage asymmetrical paper fan – including embroidering his signature into the tulle layers of the skirt it was uplifting to see how the tradition continues into the future.

I need to process everything I saw as there was well over 200 dresses in the displays, but I am sure that this show will influence how I design but also how I dress in the future, even when not in vintage clothing.

A re-entry to the world..

Well, hello there, good looking!  First up an apology for being absent for so long – and thank you to everyone who took time to drop me a comment after using my ‘how to use crochet charts’ tutorials – it’s really appreciated.

Secondly, a shout out to the lovely ladies at F this Knit and Teaching your Brain to Knit – two podcasts I started listening to recently on my stupidly long commute who have inspired me to get my act together and start posting again.  Of course it also meant I started commuting by bike again so I no longer have time to listen to three 1 hour long podcasts a day but I am listening when I can, and both these are interesting podcasts for different reasons (warning: F this Knit is “not safe for work” and if you are easily offended or don’t like swearing this is not the podcast for you)

FOs (Finished Objects)

What’s been finished since my last post

Finished Items – May 2019

Obviously I have finished more than these since my last post, but I am going to go with just this year or it will get way too depressing.  Hopefully doing this will also mean I start updating Ravelry properly to keep track of yarns, needles/hooks, yardage and pattern sources as I am really bad at that!

WIPs (Works in Progress)

Works actively being worked on – (not hibernating or we’d be here forever) including my PP (Purse Project or the project that is living in my handbag)

  • Spiderweb Skirt, Hook 5mm, Knit Picks Dishie in “EggPlant”
  • Test swatches for a bias wrap (PP)
  • Test swatches for modular stole
  • Cotton Baby Blanket

Every Day’s a School Day

What I’m learning from my crafting this month..

  • Gauge
    My Ambient sweater has taught me that my tension might be different on circulars to dpns and that it might be worth swatching with both types if making a sweater or cardigan that you want to fit you particularly in the sleeves!
  • Don’t design in the round if you aren’t going to use the benefits of working in the round / READ the damn pattern.
    Started the skirt and ripped back twice before realising that the perfectly clear word ‘turn’ at the end of the pattern row was meant to be followed.  I think the pattern designer was trying to prevent a visible seam but I was getting a horrible noticeable diagonal ridge (sure that’s my fault for not turning) and was having to count the over 100 stitches every round to try and get it to place right – it just wasn’t working for me.  Personally I think if you are not going to take advantage of working in the round to get the (really pretty) fabric that looks different to standard crochet for 30 something rows then work flat and seam with a flat stitch.

Bits of Sheep

Stash reduction or enhancement

I am very definitely SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) and have been on a self imposed yarn diet for the best part of 4 years now.  The stash however isn’t reducing, so i think they might be breading. Of course if I go to a yarn show it would be rude not to support independent traders or pass-up on the large retailer discount sales, and I am very good at starting projects that I just don’t have the yarn for in my stash…!

Going “Cold Sheep” refers to when a crafter (usually self nominated) decides not to buy more yarn/fibre until a self determined dent has been made in the existing stash.  But obviously we *need* that pretty skein for those thingymajigs we might have to make at some point in the future

I did buy a bit of yarn in France, but given I was in La Droguerie (a wonderful fairytale of a yarn shop) I thought I was very restrained (1 small cone of lace-weight mohair sparkle – Voilette, 67% superfine mohair 33% stelina, 35gr, 300mtrs in colourway Cendrillon) and Phildar let me buy yarn to play with some ideas – two balls of Phil Mohair Soie (70% mohair, 30% silk, 25gr, 195mtrs in colours givre and minerai (similar to Rowan kid silk haze but a ¼ of the price) and a ball of 100% cotton in the palest blue for the collar and I may have bought a packet of 8 different 10g mini balls for the cuteness factor.  Oops.

Having also taken 8 months to realise I need to make another baby blanket (I really should have realised that one a bit quicker – she looked pregnant from about month 2) I was cycling home and thinking about what cotton I had in stash… I knew I had a couple of balls of cotton for making ‘spa cloths’ (dish cloths) at Christmas but wasn’t sure about the quantities or colours.  Of course once I got to my stash I discovered the 50 (yes, that’s fifty) balls of 100% cotton in baby pink, lilac, baby blue, soft fushia, a muted purple and white that I picked up for about £20 a few years ago with the intention of using them up in my classes. So I guess I can sacrifice a few of those to the cause! I’m having great fun with this one. Starting with a simple crochet block stitch pattern, I discounted the blue (normally I don’t do baby blankets in gendered colours but the blue jarred against the other pink shades and she happens to be having a girl) and having laid out one ball of each in order, I’m using a random number generator (a 4 sided dice for those amongst you who know what that is) to decide the colour for each colour block row.

But I have reduced my stash by a further 5 balls at least.  I have also used my 10 balls of Knit Picks Dishie (for the Skirt).  I bought specific yarn for my other completed projects this year so they came in and went out again.

Balls/Skeins In Balls/Skeins Out Net Balance
5 15 -10

Oh Shiny…

The source of my startitis – for example planned projects , inspirations or ideas that have caught my eye or subjects or topics that have snagged my attention..

Honestly I am playing with so many ideas at the moment I barely have time to think!  After a recent one week trip to Lille in the north of France I came back with so many photos of things that could be turned into knit or crochet (or, in one case, a hand painted silk scarf) patterns.  At the moment I am swatching (and frogging and swatching and frogging and swatching) a bias knit rectangular wrap which has single stitch vertical lines.

Who would have thought that there is more than one way to do a vertical line, but the single stitch of a different colour doesn’t work.  I’ve tried dropped stitches, beading, double knitting, duplicate stitching, travelling or raised stitches..… nothing is working right yet, but I will get there I promise.

I have also been distracted by a crochet pattern idea (also inspired by the trip to France – a 17th Century Persian sandstone window screen in the Louvre in Lens being the source) which involves modular triangles.  I had done a pattern that wasn’t modular in a couple of hours but it just doesn’t have the crisp definition of line I want, even after blocking…

So, before the post gets even more ridiculously long I’d better sign off and progress with some of those current projects.  See you next month!