Wednesday, 24 April 2013

As Promised...

Sorry, this post is a little later than intended and possibly not up to my usual standard, as I’ve been suffering with a cold-virus-thingy that has really taken it out of me… I’ve not even had the energy to pick up my knitting! But here goes…

It’s been long awaited, but I think it’s finally safe to reveal the details of the secret commission I told you I’d been working on back in February, (gosh, was it really that long ago… I am sorry!).

A dear friend of mine, upon launching my Facebook page, asked if I was able to make a custom designed cushion, as a birthday gift for her Sister.

The brief was to make a 12-inch square, cream cushion, hand embroidered with the word ‘Sisters’, embellished through two red love hearts. 

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

So I started out by doing some doodles.

This prompted my friend to detail her brief a little more…

Thumbnail Sketches
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Which called for some thumbnail sketches to determine the kind of type and the positioning of hearts. (She chose ‘3’ and ‘B’)

Computer scale-drawing
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Decisions made, I scaled the design up on the computer, giving me a guide for sizing and positioning and allowing me to use this typeface as basis for the decorative lettering.

Final Design
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

And with my design drawn up to size, I was ready to begin stitching…

Cushion front
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Cushion back
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Please note: at this point in time, I am not accepting commissions, for I am busy making stock for the launch of my Folksy shop in July 2013.

Keep up to date with my progress on Facebook and/or Twitter or to see more of my work, please visit my website.

Thanks for dropping by,



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

This last week (WC: 8.4.13)…

I’ve been conscious that July and therefore the planned launch of my folksy store, is fast approaching, so since it’s been the school holidays, I’ve put some quality time into crossing some items off of Keflüti’s ‘To-Do’ List’.

Despite colours for Autumn 2013 having been released in February, I still haven’t fully decided upon a palette for that season’s range… nor have I sourced my fabric, therefore I took some time out to visit a fabric store in Walsall: ‘Hole in theWall’, as recommended by T’s Mum.

Fabric remnants from ‘Hole in the Wall’, Walsall.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Before I even set foot in store, I found these gorgeous remnants displayed outside… I’m hopeful that there’s enough fabric here to create four large totes!

Inside they have a great long room dedicated to rolls of clearance upholstery fabric, plus an entire floor full of various weights besides – and that’s not to mention the rooms containing this season’s stock.

The following day, I took a trip to compare these fabrics, colours and prices with that of Birmingham’s fabric stores.

I hadn’t been to Barry’s Fabrics in Digbeth before – oh what a treat! They’ve got just about any fabric imaginable and at very reasonable prices! I’ll definitely be going there for my lining fabrics… they’ve got everything from plain to patterns incorporating dots/stripes, flowers, or even campervans, in every weight/colour imaginable.

Lining fabric from ‘Barry’s Fabrics’, Birmingham
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I must have been in there for over an hour, but I did come away with these beauties, which will go brilliantly with the upholstery fabric I bought from Walsall!

I still remain undecided about my Autumn palette, but I am closer to decided on fabrics and where to buy them.

Fabric remnants from a private supplier, lining from 'Abakhan', Manchester
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This last week, I also took some time to experiment with some remnants I acquired from a private supplier of mine (a friend of a relative).

I’d had these pieces ear-marked for some time, but when I began work, the task in hand wasn’t quite as easy as I’d thought, due to the large pattern repeat. I’m used to working with plain fabrics, therefore I’d reckoned I’d achieve two large totes out of each of these offcuts, however the pattern on the fabric meant otherwise. It turned out I was trialing small totes earlier than I’d anticipated and I’ll actually only achieve one per piece.

Small tote
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

After many an hour deliberating, I think you’ll agree that this small patterned tote turned out nicely.

What’s more, I’ve started to knit again, after a four-month break. (Knitting 15 snoods at Christmas rather took it out of me!) I’m over half way through a gorgeous plum-coloured snood (similar shades to the tote above) and loving it!

Finally, it’s become apparent that it suits me better to blog over a weekend/Monday, whilst I’m at T’s and void of a sewing machine, rather than mid-week… so that’s my plan, we’ll see how it goes…

I think that’s all from me for now, thanks for dropping by – have a great week!


Monday, 8 April 2013

There’s something for everyone…

at The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. Don’t let the word Museum put you off either, (as it would me - usually), this no normal museum! Pitt Rivers contains the oddest assortment of objects, arranged in the most random of collections. Downstairs alone, for instance, you have ‘nose flutes’ and ‘treatment of dead enemies’ (for which Pitt Rivers is well known re: shrunken heads) just cabinets away from one-another. It’s absolutely fascinating… definitely worth a visit!!!

Bags and Pouches Collection, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I was pleasantly surprised to find (though I’m not sure why!) on the first floor, a cabinet containing ‘bags and pouches’. They’re not really arranged in any particular order regarding dates or founding locations, as is the case throughout the museum, therefore, you just take it as it comes.

And this is somewhat the case with my photographs too. I’ve tended to capture anything that either inspires me, or that I feel is a little bit clever. Please excuse the quality of some of the photographs; everything is displayed in glass cabinets, in low-lit rooms…

Oceania Melanesia, Solomon Islands, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK
String-work bag of round section with two carrying loops. 
 Probably collected by Robert Henry Codrington, donated by him in 1916
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This bag caught my eye because it’s the same shape as the totes I currently make; yet is dated pre 1916!

Oceania Micronesia, Kiribati, Tarawa (top), The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Rectangular bag with narrow carrying strap, woven from very pale undyed, and dark brown dyed, narrow palm leaf strips. 'Kiribati' is woven in capital letters on the flap.
Collected by Rachel Robinson in 1999 and donated by her in 2004.

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

It intrigues me how this bag and purse are made from strips of leaf, which are in some cases dyed. I presume palm leaves are reasonably strong, else surely they’d have disintegrated when worked?! It’s incredible how people utilize what they’ve got, especially in terms of mixing dyes from plants and berries etc.

Middle America, Tobago (right), The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Bag plaited from matchboxes encased in plastic. Base is lined with a piece of old calendar. Handles of machine-made round braid. This bag was purchased in Tobago in 1999 but such bags have been made in Trinidad and Tobago since at least the 1940s, though encasing them in plastic is a more recent development. Collected for the Museum by Lorraine Rostant in 1999.

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Plaited matchboxes resemble the kind of thing I might have done either in school or at home, as a child and it’s for this reason I took this photograph - I’m really quite fond of this idea. What’s more it’s recycled art, which has a use… fantastic!

Asia, North-East India or Myanmar (Burma); Khamti, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Textile bag with cotton warp and silk weft, completely covered in fine multicoloured brocading in cotton, silk and wool. Geometric and figurative designs, including birds. The strap is a square-sectioned braid of coloured cotton yarn, tasselled at the ends. The bag is lined with brown cotton trade cloth.
Collected by Robert Niel Reid in 1937; donated by him in 1955.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This is a beautifully crafted bag, of an ideal size and shape. I was particularly drawn to it, for both the construction and the fixing of the handle, as I’m always on the lookout for new ideas…

Europe, UK, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Pouch made of cotton and silk.
Probably made in England in the nineteenth century.
Donated by Charis E. F. Thomas in 1940.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Finally, the label to this pouch tickles me… ‘Probably made in England’ - it’s this kind of honest uncertainty that you see throughout Pitt Rivers – frustrating to the historian, but quite endearing to me, who rarely reads a label, rather enjoying an object for what it is/appears.

Well that was my ‘something’ (re: the title of this post), what will yours be?!

Thanks for dropping by…