Friday 27 June 2014

Cosy Shells Fingerless Gloves-Free Pattern!

Tea and crochet

The finished gloves

Whilst flicking through one of my old knitting magazines I saw a pair of beautiful crochet fingerless gloves in a shell pattern. The picture was part of an advert for a wool shop but I really liked them and decided I needed to make them (rather than finish my hundreds of other projects.) From looking at the picture I knew I could figure it out myself but I was being lazy and wanted someone else to have done the thinking for me! So, I headed off to Ravelry and google but I couldn't find a pattern I liked enough so I did end up writing my own pattern and then because I'm nice I thought I'd share it with you!

It is a very simple tube pattern with an opening for your thumb, the shell pattern has a degree of stretch allowing for the changing shape of your arm and hand and I would also advise using a yarn with a bit of stretch (such as a wool rather than cotton) to allow for the varying thickness of your arms and hands.

I began by swatching and testing out the pattern using the yarn I wanted to use; Colourspun by Rowan, a wool/mohair/polyamide mix in roughly DK weight. The colours are beautiful, grey and blue spun through with bright pink and green and it works up really nicely. I'm quite sensitive to wool but decided that as my hands are pretty tough this yarn would be okay for fingerless gloves. The gloves took just over 1 x 50g ball but if you made them a couple of rows shorter or had a yarn with a better meterage (colourspun is 135m per ball) you could probably get away with one ball.

I should at this point inform you that I have ridiculously thin wrists so if you follow the pattern exactly be prepared for very cosy gloves. However, it is easy to alter them as the pattern repeats over 6 stitches so you just need to make your starting chain a multiple of 6 and long enough to comfortably fit your wrist. Alternatively if you only need them a little bigger just use a bigger hook.

The Pattern

If you find any errors or are not sure about something please let me know and I will amend or attempt to help as best I can.

UK Terms

ch: chain
dc: double crochet
slst: slip stitch
tr: treble
shell: 5tr

Tension: 10 cm x 10 cm should give you roughly 3 shells wide by 6 shells high. Change hook to gain correct tension.

Finished measurements: Length 30 cm Circumference 19 cm

Each glove is worked in the same way, make as many as you have arms.

Using a 6mm hook chain 24 and join with slip stitch to form a ring

Round 1: Change to a 5mm hook, ch1, work 1dc into each chain and join with slst in first dc (24dc)
The first dc should be worked into the same stitch as the slst from beginning chain

Round 2: Ch3 {counts as first tr}, work 4tr in same st as slst and ch3, miss 2dc, dc in next stitch, miss 2dc, *5tr {shell} in next stitch, miss 2dc, dc in next stitch, miss 2dc* Repeat from * to * all around and then join with slst in top of ch3

Round 3: Slst to middle tr of shell, dc in this stitch, shell in next dc, *dc in middle tr of next shell, shell in next dc* Repeat from * to * all around and then join with slst in first dc

Round 4:  Ch3 {counts as first tr}, work 4tr in same st as slst and ch3, dc in middle tr of next shell, *shell in next dc, dc in middle tr of next shell* Repeat from * to * all around and then join with slst in top of ch3

Rounds 5-20: Repeat rows 3 and 4 (ending with a row 4)

Thumb hole

Round 21: Work as for round 3 except replace last shell with ch5

Round 22: Work as for round 4 working last dc into third chain of ch5

Rounds 23-25: Continue with pattern as set {repeating rounds 3 and 4}

Round 26: Ch1, dc in each stitch around, join with slst.

Weave in ends, place gloves on hands and enjoy cosy feeling.

Stitch diagram: Round 1

Stitch diagram: Round 2

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Hail to the Thief

Hail to the Thief (detail)

I finished this piece of work almost a month ago and so decided it was high time I shared it with you! The piece was made in response to the theme 'silver' and it was an interesting piece to work on as I combined several techniques I have previously used on separate pieces together. The piece is made of painted, appliquéd and embroidered silk organza. I worked in layers to try and build up the form and iridescent wing colours so characteristic of magpies.

Hail to the Thief

As with a lot of pieces I wasn't very happy when I first finished the piece, I find that finishing a piece of work is often quite an anti-climax as it is never quite as good as it was in your head. However, after a bit of time I start to become more satisfied and see the good things about it as well as the negatives. This then feeds in to the next piece of work.

Wing detail

Lace print detail

Despite saying that I wasn't going to go into the concepts behind my work in a previous blog post but that I was going to leave it all to the viewer I did write a little about the background to this piece and have decided to include it for you here. However, you will hopefully have some other ideas and thoughts and be able to enjoy the work with or without my interpretation.

"Throughout history silver has been exchanged for goods, sometimes fairly and sometimes not. I became interested in the darker side of silver and it's history and this led me to think about fair and unfair trade both historically and in contemporary society. Silver and thievery have a long association and this theme kept running through my thoughts.

I have long been fascinated by members of the Corvidae family and I kept returning to the children's rhyme about magpies; one for sorrow, two for joy...five for silver. The magpie, perhaps more than any other bird, is loaded with superstitions and suspicions. We call them thieves yet we also salute them, berate their penchant for shiny trinkets but admire their glossy and iridescent plumage. So, in responding to the theme of silver I found myself drawn more and more towards the Magpie. It also gave me a good reason to do lots of drawings of them!

A recurring theme in my work is a questioning of the lesser value often placed on artworks made using traditional textile skills and techniques. The subtle lace print suggests how painting, or fine art, has been considered superior to craft or applied arts (such as lace making) and the use of embroidery over the top of a painting is an attempt to redress the balance. Textiles offer an intimate and immediate connection to a piece of work through their familiarity and I hope that I can use this to draw people in and perhaps cause them to re-evaluate and look for deeper meanings."

Head detail

Thursday 19 June 2014

Quilt Update

Work on 'The Summer'

I wrote in April about the fourth quilt project I am running with my textile group up at The Heathlands Project (a social enterprise supporting adults with disabilities.) The guys are making great progress and the work is coming together really well. The border patches are all finished and I began stitching them together today.

Stitching the border patches together

One of the border patches. Batik and embroidery

The main body of the quilt is also progressing beautifully. Each year I have encouraged the textile group to try something a bit different and this year we have been experimenting with batik and fabric pastels. At the moment the guys are appliquéing organza shapes on top of the patterns they drew with the pastels and embellishing with hand stitch. The group chose the title 'The Summer' for the quilt and as more colours and stitches spread across its surface it is like summer coming into bloom.

Detail of fabric pastel drawing

Pastel and appliqué detail

The quilt project gives the group the chance to enhance and develop the skills they have already learnt as well as being an opportunity to try out new techniques. It also helps build a sense of community as everyone gets involved and we are all working towards a common goal. Knowing that the quilt will be seen by thousands of people (at The Festival of Quilts in August at the N.E.C.) is really exciting for a lot of the group.

Working together

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Felt making Adventures

Rolling out the felt

Today was the second session in a block of felt making sessions I'm currently running for the No Borders Art Group. I have worked with the group on several projects before (most recently on an interiors project) and always enjoy their company. The group is now based at one of Carlisle's Day Centres (we used to work down at one of the local community centres) and the group is made up of adults with learning disabilities from the day centre. The programme is organised and run by Prism Arts.

Laying out the fibres

Making 3D felt using a plastic resist

I have done felt making with the group before and the idea of this block of sessions is to take the skills the group have already acquired and really develop them. It was great going in today and hearing their ideas and coming up with some plans. We also had a new member of the group who has taken to the process really quickly and I think will produce some beautiful work.

Making felt beads

Beads and cords from last week

I find it very enjoyable and satisfying working with a group over a period of time, it allows you the chance to develop good relationships where ideas can be expressed and explored together. It is also exciting seeing people grow in skill and confidence and knowing that you are part of that process. It is also very inspiring creatively as people often come up with new ideas and ways of doing things that you might not otherwise come across.

Making a felt 'sausage' to slice into beads

First go at felt making

Wednesday 4 June 2014


Knitting, mixed media drawing

As I wrote in my last post it's been so good the past few weeks to have a bit of time to work on my own practice and enjoy playing around in my studio. I've been doing a lot of drawing and as well as enjoying the drawing in itself it has been giving me lots of ideas. My brain is ticking over with lots of ideas for work I want to make and things I want to try.

Work in progress

Paper and bamboo fan with pen drawing

Paper and bamboo fan with pen drawing (other side)

Paper and bamboo fan with pen drawing (detail)

I found these 'decorate your own fans' in The Works last week and thought they might be interesting to experiment with. I started by taking the paper off one of them to make a template so that I could replace the white paper with other materials. Having made a template with the paper I then started drawing on it and quite liked what I'd done so I put it back on the fan staves (not as easy as it sounds!)

Graphite and pencil on tracing paper and knitted sample

I've been doing some drawing on tracing paper as I like the translucency and it relates well to the textile work that I do. I did try making a tracing paper fan but it looked a bit rubbish so I started experimenting with arranging the drawings I'd done with samples and I think this works a lot better. Having the time to play and explore these ideas is really great and I find that the more I do the more I keep thinking of different ways to develop the work.

Drawing made into a vessel

Different views of the vessel

I'm running another Vessel making workshop soon and with this in mind I've been playing around with turning some of my drawings into vessels. This is something I've been wanting to try for a while so it was good to try it out. The drawing I chose to work with was of hands knitting and having made it into a vessel I decided it didn't work so I flattened it out again. However, I do think it will work with other drawings so I'm going to carry on experimenting!

Back to a 2D piece

Back to a 2D piece

Back to a 2D piece

I've got a couple of busy weeks work-wise coming up and I'm really looking forward to it; having had chance to spend some time focusing on my own practice I'm feeling all inspired and creative and looking forward to sharing that with other people. I started a series of felt making workshops today with the No Borders art group (who I have worked with several times before) and they came up with some really interesting ideas they want to explore, including felting a portrait of Lady Gaga.