Sunday, 28 September 2014

Of Hooks and Needles

Hi there!

It's been quite a while (read:ages) since I last blogged. Life has been busy for the better part of the year and while I've made a couple of dolls, none of them were worth writing a blog post about. The lull in my dolling also has another cause: I've been doing a lot of handwork lately. Handwork involving hooks and needles.

The first kind of handwork I've become quite addicted to is knitting. I tried to learn how to knit
Sweater number one.
several times years ago. While I understood the technique, I would become bored after knitting a few centimeters and quit, only to forget how to knit. Last year my mother started knitting a sweater for me (she used to be awesomely good at knitting) and I got interested as well. I was annoyed that the knowledge of knitting still escaped me. This time I would learn it and persevere. And I did! While I still am very much a knitting rookie and still haven't learnt to knit cables, I managed to knit a sweater. A simple one, made in multi-colour wool so that imperfections wouldn't stand out, but a sweater nonetheless.

Closeup view of the multi-colour effect.
Sweater number two.
I've already started working on a second one. The front and back are finished, so I only have the sleeves and neckline to knit. However, I'm also planning to embroider patterns on it, so I'm guessing it will take a while to finish the whole thing. It would have been further along if I hadn't had to pull out about 50cm of knitting after realising the sweater would be way too big for me (even though according to the instructions it should have been just fine). It was huge. All those hours wasted. Ah well, I can use the practice.

Please ignore the imprint of
my embroidery hoop >_<
The second kind of handwork is cross-stitching. I started doing this last year, or the year before that. I find it to be quite soothing. That is, until you realise you've made a mistake and end up having to pull out tons of stitches >_< Anyway, I got a couple of cross-stitch kits and started working on one when the weather was too warm to knit. It's one depicting a cat with a couple of pansies. I'm almost finished with the cat, but still have to start working on the pansies.

The famous, tiny hook.
So all that accounts for the 'needles' part of the title. What about the hooks then? You might think that they refer to crochet, but that isn't the case. My dear reader, a couple of weeks ago I've started to learn how to make lace. Lierse kant or Lier lace to be more specific. Chances are big that you've never heard of it. If it weren't for the fact that an incredibly talented lady living in my village teaches this craft and shows it at the local yearly fair. While it's not as famous as Bruges, Mechlin or Brussels lace, it's still pretty beautiful. It's a kind of tambour lace: it's created on tulle netting by using a small hook to make chain stitches. Every piece of Lier lace is made entirely in chain stitch. The technique is quite simple, but it takes practice to get it to look consistent and elegant.

First try at lace making. The corners
 still need a lot of work :/
So far I've been to two classes: the first one we ended up talking, the second one I spent all three hours getting my tulle netting and the wooden frame ready. Only at the very end of the class the teacher showed me how to do the chain stitch using a rope and a piece of plastic with big holes in it. I've practised at home, but because she's never seen my chain stitches on tulle netting I'm left a bit in the dark: is my work decent or not? Fortunately we agreed to have an extra class (the next one would have been in November), so tomorrow I'll find out. I'm a bit anxious about it: it's been ages since I've learnt a new hobby in a social setting (I usually teach myself stuff) and I don't want to let the teacher down. But even if it's completely and utterly terrible: everyone has to start somewhere. At least I understood how to do the chain stitch on my very first try. I had nightmares about just not getting it and the teacher getting impatient with me XD

The whole setup. I actually need to get trestles to put the frame on. Also, Iliana decided that the wooden frame makes an excellent pillow.