Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY 2011



I have friends and family that right now are living in a different decade to me - how weird does that sound! By this time tomorrow we'll all have joined them there :)  Generally at this time of the year, everyone makes some kind of resolution for the new year and I've been thinking about what I'll be doing next year.

I'll definately be dyeing, felting, making yarn, knitting and crocheting. I'll be playing with "hot fabric", embroidering and beading. I hope to start painting again and have another go at making metal jewellery. There are a couple of exhibitions I want to be part of and some shows I'd like to see. I think I might teach a few workshops too.

In May 2011 my book will be published, I'm looking forward to that, and in the first few weeks of 2011 I'll still be involoved with the final touches for it.

Not really resolutions, I know but I do know that 2011 is going to be a wonderful year and I'm looking very forward to the begining of a new decade filled with a new energy of love and hope and a better life for everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's HOT!


I've got a new toy to play with, it's a Dremel Versatip (2000-6). It's a portable soldering iron / hot air gun / cutting tool/ torch that runs on butane gas. I've spent the last couple of days having fun. It's great because I don't have to be near a plug or have an extension cable across the floor. I can work anywhere - even outside, so I don't have to worry about ventilation either.

I started off with a number of synthetic fabrics, layered them and free motion stitched them together. I drew my pattern on and used the cutting tip to cut the shapes out. I then used the soldering tip to carefully burn back some of the top layers and make marks and holes as part of the design. I added some metal shim, embroidery and wire. It'll be a project in Stitches some time soon.

I've also fused some lovely organza together, which will be used for butterfly wings.








Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Coasting - Last Minute Gifts

Just Coasting
©Dana Biddle

Do you still have a few last minute gifts to make for Christmas? These little works of art can be made in no time and are suitable for everyone. They will be visible all the time, well except for when they’re protecting your table from a hot cuppa something, so make each one extra special. There is just one challenge when making them, all embellishment must be smooth and flat so that a cup or mug won’t wobble. Also, try to make them washable – just in case!

You will need:
Cotton fabric of your choice for base
Timtex – craft Vilene
Commercial felt
Appliqué paper
Embellishment – fabric scraps, tulle, fabric motives, felt, threads etc...

Instructions
Coasters may be made individually or a few could be made on one piece of fabric and then cut apart later.
Measure and draw the outline of your coaster/s onto the Timtex. Each should measure 10cm x 10cm.
Fuse the Timtex and the base fabric together using appliqué paper.
Using thread that will be visible on your base fabric, stitch along the outline drawn onto the Timtex. (If you prefer to work on each coaster individually, cut them apart now.)
Embellish each coaster as desired, remembering to keep your embellishment smooth and flat.
Fuse the coaster tops to the felt using appliqué paper.
Cut the coasters apart.
Finish the edges as desired.

Coaster 1
The hut was drawn onto the Timtex, top thread was placed in the bobbin of the sewing machine and the design was stitched using free motion stitching.

Coaster 2
The sheep face and body shape was cut from felt and then applied to the coaster using an embellisher (felting machine). The eye, legs and curls were then machine stitched using free motion stitching.

Coaster 3
A fabric motive was fused to the top of the coaster using appliqué paper. Stitching around the shape was done using free motion stitching.

Coaster 4
Fabric scraps were cut into tiny pieces and randomly arranged on the coaster top. This was covered with a piece of black tulle and all held together with free motion stitching.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ColourSpun on Facebook

Hi Everyone,

I've been really busy meeting deadlines for the February issue of Stitches, it promises to be a great one!  I have opened a ColourSpun community page on facebook and would like to invite you to join and use it to ask questions, leave comments, post your photos of anything fibre related. Join the community here and/or join me here

Since it's nearly Christmas, I thought it would be nice to share a last minute idea for some personalised baubles.

Father and Mother Christmas
© Dana Biddle




These baubles represent Santa and his wife but you may prefer to make them to look like members of your own family.

You will need:
A4 piece of cardboard
HB pencil, Compass, Ruler – a school math set comes in handy here
Scissors
Calico fabric – 15cm x 30cm for each bauble
Cream quilting thread
Polyester stuffing
Micron pens
Pastel pencils
Curly Mohair for hair (available from ColourSpun)
Elle felting needles and a square of foam rubber about 30cm x 30cm x 10cm
Red Perlé cotton.

Instructions
Draw a circle with a 14cm diameter on the cardboard. Cut out. This is your pattern.

For each bauble:
Draw 2 circles onto the calico and cut out.
Thread a needle with a fairly long piece of quilting thread and knot the ends together securely to make it double.
Work a row of running stitch all the way around 1 circle of fabric about 5mm from the edge.
Place some stuffing in the centre of the circle and pull the threads to start gathering the circle.
Continue stuffing and gathering until it is firmly stuffed and the gathering has closed the circle at the back.
End off securely, making sure that the front of the stuffed circle is smooth and has no puckers and is a nice round shape.

Repeat with the 2nd circle of fabric.

Place the 2 stuffed circles together with the gathered edges inside and using another doubled quilting thread and an invisible stitch, attach them to each other.

Now’s where the fun starts!

Very lightly using an HB pencil, draw a face onto the bauble -use the photos as a guide. When you are satisfied, outline with the micron pens and colour the face in using the pastel pencils.

You can leave the face as is or if you would like to add some contouring stitches do so now.

With a single quilting thread and using tiny stitches, insert the needle through the back of the head and bring out on the outside corner of one of the eyes. Making a tiny stitch take the needle out at the back of the head and pull the thread tight to make an indentation, repeat on the inside corner of the eye and then on the other eye. Do the same with the mouth.

For the nose, start on the side of the head and bring the needle out on the opposite side of the nose in the middle. Making a tiny stitch, push the needle straight through to the other side of the nose and tighten thread to lift nose. Then bring the needle out at the top of the nose on the opposite side and pull thread tight (be careful not to tighten too much here). Making a tiny stitch, push the needle straight through to the other side of the nose and tighten thread to lift nose.

For the nostrils, start at the top of the head and bring the needle out in the 1st nostril, making a tiny stitch take the needle back out at the top of the head and pull tight. Repeat for the 2nd nostril and end off securely.
Use the curly mohair for the hair. Arrange it on the head and very gently needle to attach it. (Remember to work on the foam rubber to protect your needle and keep your fingers out of the way!)

Roll 2 tiny bits of mohair between your fingers to form a sausage shape. Place these on the eyebrows and carefully needle into place.

For Santa, roll another small bit of mohair into a sausage shape and needle the middle of it just under the nose to form his moustache. Needle some mohair to his chin for his beard.
Cut a piece of perlé cotton about 30cm long. Leaving a 15cm long tail, attach it to the top of the head with a tiny double stitch, which should leave you with another tail of about 15cm. Tie the ends of the tails together to form a loop for hanging.

ENJOY!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Etsy SA SILLY SALE



The silly season is almost upon us and soon we’ll all be madly running around searching for gifts for family and friends. It’s so much easier to shop online in the comfort of your home and Etsy shops are perfect for special, quality handmade gifts - and you’ll be supporting a fellow crafter.
The South African Etsy Group will be holding a SILLY SALE from the 1st November for 3 weeks. Shop owners will be discounting selected merchandise in their Etsy Shops. To shop the sale go to http://www.etsy.com/  and search SAsillysale.
I am going to spend the day today uploading specials into my ColourSpun shop and I'm discounting them by 30%. All the yarn is hand dyed, extra soft, DK pure Merino wool , mill spun and Herco treated so it can be machine washed without any fear of felting. The dyes are all earth friendly and light and wash fast. Each item is exclusive, never to be repeated as this DK Merino yarn is no longer available and I need to make space for my new Merino yarn.

Readers of my blog can sneak into my shop today and be the first to snap up a bargain.

Happy Shopping!

Love Dana

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Photo Shoot

I had an awesome week last week - we did the photo shoot for my book, "From Fibre to Fabulous - a South African Knitting Adventure". The photo's were done over 3 days at the most spectacular location with a wonderful team of people. It is so great to work with professionals, my publisher and her assistant, the photographer, the makeup artist and stylist, all the models - everyone just did their bit, perfectly, on cue and the photo's are beautiful. I can't wait to see them in print. All that remains to be done are a few close up shots and then it's all off to the layout artists.




I can't believe that all the writing and knitting is done but I certainly haven't had time to wonder what next. I'm busy making a pair of flap top mittens for Jo, for her holiday in London in December and I'm plying some karakul yarn to make it stronger before I knit it up into a carpet runner for our passage. I'm also working on the February issue of Stitches :) and getting my listings together for the SA Silly Sale on Etsy (more about that tomorrow)

Love Dana

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back Home

Hi Everyone,

This time last week, my friend Linda and I were on our way to Sabie to help her brother and sister in law furnish and decorate their new venture - Lew's View. The first two self catering units are done. We had a wonderful time choosing everything from patio furniture right down to dish cloths. Talk about shop till you drop! We did most of the shopping in Nelspruit and I must tell you that the staff at the Mr. Price Home Store at the new Ilanga mall are absolutely amazing. It took us two full days of shopping on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday we took a break so that I could get some photos for my book in Pilgrims Rest and Graskop and on Thursday we hit the shops again!

                                          What a squash!


The last bit of  shopping about to be loaded

Now that I'm home again, I've been doing the last bits of projects for the December issue of Stitches and I think it's going to be a really great one. Lots of lovely gift projects, and I have an idea for the November page of the birthday calender - courtesy of "Guns n Roses", can you guess what it is? I've also been knitting madly and have 2 sleeves to go, then all the book knitting will be finished.

Yesterday afternoon I plied the yarn I spun last week. When I looked at it, it seemed strangely familiar so I dug in my hand spun basket and voila - I have another skein that looks the same! The first skein was spun ages ago from tops I dyed and yesterday's skein was spun from tops dyed by Carle of Nurturing fibres :) I think I'm keeping these for me and I'm going to make something special with this yarn.

Until next time - :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ssssSpinnnnn


Hi Everyone,

I've had a wonderfully busy day in my studio today working on projects for the December issue of Stitches. I love the December issue as I get to think up allsorts of wonderful gifts and holiday fare. Since it's a hot and sunny time of the year here, I'm working on summery projects but also have a few gifty things for those who will be spending December in more wintery weather. I'm doing the last part of the birthday calender series and am stuck trying to think of a picture for November. Any ideas, anyone?

I also gave in today and spent some time at my spinning wheel. I have some beautiful rainbow tops that a friend dyed and I am in the process now of spinning it into a funky yarn. Here are some pics.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Lovely Long Weekend

It's been a really lovely long weekend. We started it off with dinner on Thursday evening with friends we haven't seen for too long. We had a wonderful meal and a good laugh and catch up.

The rest of the weekend has been spent dyeing yarn which has turned out beautifully. The weather has been perfect for dyeing and I've really had a lot of fun. I've also had time to upload some new yarns onto my ColourSpun shop and to read my new book which I'm really enjoying. It's called "The Power" and is about the law of attraction.  

Here's some of the yarn I've uploaded today:




I'm off to do a bit of knitting now - hope your weekend was also wonderful :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello Again

Hi Everyone,

I've had a really long, unintentional break from posting here while I caught up with myself. After I broke my last computer I seemed to be in reverse for a while but I'm happy to say I'm well and truly in forward gear again.
 I have finished the writing of "From Fibre to Fabulous - a South African Knitting Adventure" and the knitting is almost done too - hopefully by the end of next week it will be there and then I plan to spin some yarn, that's something else that I haven't managed to find time for these last few months. I have some really way out, wild ideas for some funky art yarn that I really am dying to make. It hasn't been all book and nothing else though, I have managed to squeeze in some dying of yarn  and whilst playing last week I worked out a new technique for colouring :) My first batch was snapped up and so I'm going to make some more this weekend. We are promised perfect weather, so the sunstoves will be out and working overtime! I'll upload it onto my shop at  http://www.colourspun.com/  next week but here's a little taste of what it may be like. The way it is done means that each skein, although part of a family of skeins, has it's own unique character.

I have also done instructions for a little Rose Neckpiece that I would like to share with you today.

Rose Neck Piece
© Dana Biddle

Wear your garden on your neck. This lovely neck piece can be made using either wool or cotton making it suitable to wear in winter or summer.

What you will need
1. DK yarn – wool or cotton, about 10g in your chosen colour for the neck ring and bits in assorted “rose” colours for the rose necklace. Available from ColourSpun Natural Designer Yarns
2. French knitting dolly or circular or double pointed knitting needles 3 or 4mm
3. Knitting needles – 3 or 3.5mm
4. Crochet hook – 3 or 3.5
5. Scissors or snips
6. Knitters needle (rounded point) for sewing up
7. Wire neck ring
8. Some beads to make matching earrings (optional)
9. Findings for earrings – head/eye pins, earring hooks/studs.
10. Pliers – round nose, long nose and side cutters (for making earrings)

Instructions
Begin by making a French knitting cord long enough to cover your neck ring (if you are not sure if it will fit, rather make it too long than too short). Do not end it off before removing it from your knitting dolly, or knit an icord using the circular or double pointed knitting needles. Cover your neck ring by sliding the knitted cord over it from one side and then if necessary unravel some knitting until it is a perfect fit – Not stretched and not gathered. Cut your yarn leaving about a 20cm tail and thread onto knitter’s needle. End off cord by passing yarn through all 4 stitches and pull tight. Tightly wind the tail around the end of the cord and end off by threading the yarn under the binding. Snip off end close to work. Repeat for the other side.

You now have a covered neck piece to embellish with roses.

Roses
Crochet. Large rose – start with 8 chain. Work 2 single crochet into each chain. Turn and work 2 single crochet into each stitch. Work 2 more rows increasing into each stitch. End off leaving a tail of about 20cm. Wind crochet into rose shape and stitch to hold. Position on neckpiece and attach.
Small rose – work as for large rose but start with 5 chain and work only 3 rows.

Knit. Large rose – Cast on 10 stitches. Work 4 rows in stocking stitch increasing into ever stitch on every row. Cast off leaving a tail of about 20cm. Wind knitting into rose shape and stitch to hold. Position on neckpiece and attach.
Small rose – Work as for large rose but cast on 7 stitches and work 3 rows before casting off.

Leaves
Knit – work in stocking stitch. (Make 2)
Leaving a 20cm tail, cast on 3 stitches and work 2 rows.
Next row – K3 into 1st stitch, K2 into 2nd stitch and K3 into last stitch (8 stitches)
Work 3 rows
Next row – K2tog through back of loop, K4, K2tog
Next row – purl
Next row – K2tog tbl, K2, K2tog
Next row – purl
Next row – K2tog tbl, K2tog
Next row – P2tog
End off leaving a 20cm tail. Position leaves on neck piece and attach both ends.

The 2nd neck piece is knit with cotton and embellished with a covered bead.

ENJOY!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back at last

Hi Everyone,

First I must apologise for the long lapse between posts here. It started with me going away for a week at the beginning of June and not having the connectivity I thought I would, then another week away to spend some time with a friend recovering from an operation and all good intentions of posting went out the window while we lounged around chatting and knitting and generally catching up. Then on the way home disaster struck, I dropped my hand luggage bag and managed to damage my computer in the process. It had to go into the repair shop but unfortunately nothing could be done. Anyway I now have a new computer and am back in business. Fortunately I'm really good at back up so I still have all my documents intact but I've lost all my e-mails and address book as I didn't know how to back them up and nothing could be recovered from my computer.

It's almost my 3rd monthaversary and tomorrow I'll be randomly choosing someone who follows my blog to receive a gift from Colourspun. If you are not following my blog you still have time to join before tomorrow.


This is a sunrise over Plettenberg Bay from my friend's balcony.

Have a great day - I'll be posting a project tomorrow.



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Art Work

Hi Everyone,

This has been a busy weekend but really enjoyable. I did a market on Friday and found this lovely painting by Yvonne Swanepoel, a local artist. It is perfect for a bare wall we have in our lounge and I was really excited about my find so thought I'd like to share. I love the calm in the painting with the sun light breaking through the storm clouds.



I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend too and all my UK friends have a wonderful extended weekend tomorrow :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Big Smile


I spent the morning knitting with friends yesterday and was presented with a beautiful gift, made especially for me by my littlest friend who is 5 years old. She was at school and couldn't give it to me personally so her mom gave it and I still owe her a big hug and a love thank you. She made me a container to keep my knitting needles in with a beautiful drawing of me on it. I decided to store my most precious hand carved knitting needles from Nepal in it on my book shelf with some of my favourite books.

I will smile and think of her every time I see it.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And...... we have a WINNER

Hi Everyone,

Today is the 2nd monthaversary of my blog! Time has flown and I can't believe that I've been blogging for 2 whole months already. As promised I did a random draw from the people following my blog and the person that I will be sending the gift to is.... Dominant Hands.  As a thank you to everyone else who is interested in my ramblings, I've decided to post the instructions for making "the gift" and they will be here tomorrow.



In the mean time here's another little teaser to help you guess what it is.

Until tomorrow .... have fun!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gifts and Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

I've had a lovely weekend. I'm taking part in an Art and Crafts Swap and received some lovely gifts in the mail yesterday. I had to send off one gift and find 6 people to take part. If the chain isn't broken, I should receive 36 little handmade gifts :) Thank you soo much - they're beautiful!


This is a card - the felt flower is removable and becomes a book mark


Another lovely handmade card


How lovely is this recipe folder, I'm going to use it for my special recipes.

All these gifts remind me that it is almost my blog monthaversary and to celebrate I'll be sending one of my ColourSpun followers a special monthaversary gift. I thought that since it's winter here and all too soon our landscape will be fairly monotone, that this month's gift should be something really bright and cheerful - so - here's a glimpse.



I'll be doing the random draw from the ColourSpun followers on Tuesday, if you're not following yet, you still have time.

Have a happy day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Short Row Shaped Scarf

Hi Everone,

A friend of mine has "Creative Friday" on her blog Natural Suburbia. I thought that this would be a good pattern for that as it is just a little different from a normal scarf.

Short Row Shaped Scarf
©Dana Biddle

You will need:
An assortment of yarns – about 150g to 200g available from ColourSpun Natural Designer Yarn
1 pair 7mm knitting needles




Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lady Birds


Today is a beautiful day here. The sun is shining but it's not too hot and I have done a lot of dyeing this morning, the yarn is all outside drying and I came in to open  an extra window- that's when I saw them, the lady birds are busy moving indoors; a sure sign that winter is on the way. I feel really privileged to have them in my studio hibernating for the winter and when the weather starts warming up again they'll move back outside to look after my garden. :)




Friday, May 14, 2010

Warm Gilet


Warm Gilet
© Dana Biddle

Knit on larger than usual needles to make it soft and cuddly, this gilet is quick and easy, worked in one piece. It is long enough to keep your legs warm too. Since each front is wider than the back, it will hang longer to points in the front and is kept closed with a stick fastener. You can make a shorter version by casting on less stitches and if necessary, moving the armholes accordingly and changing the width of the fronts.

Requirements
About 600g of an assortment of yarns of different textures in your chosen colour way
with average weight DK to Bulky available from ColourSpun Natural Designer Yarn
Waste yarn – smooth yarn in contrasting colour to your garment.
Size 7.5mm circular knitting needle – 80cm or longer OR 7.5mm long straight needles
Size 6.5mm circular knitting needle – 40 or 60 cm long.

Instructions
are available in my Craftsy Store and on Ravelry


Monday, May 10, 2010

Knobbly felted scarf

Hello Everyone,

Today has been a strange day. It started off with a fierce storm at about 4:00 this morning, shortly followed by a fireworks display outside our bedroom window. You're probably thinking "what on earth?" - so did we! The fireworks were caused by the street light going out with a bang, having been stuck by lightning. Safe to say our electricity went off with it and we had none for most of the day. I spent some time this morning sorting out in my studio and came across a scarf I made last winter and had forgotten about. It's a lovely soft knit/felted scarf and I thought I'd share it with you.



Shibori Felted Scarf
© Dana Biddle


You will need:
150gm 100% wool (this must NOT be Herco treated ie. NOT machine washable) available from ColourSpun Natural Designer Yarn
Size 5mm knitting needles
About 40 marbles or large beads
About 40 tiny elastic bands
Tumble drier

Instructions can be found in my Ravelry Store or in my Craftsy Store

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yarn yarn yarn

Hi there,

I have been really busy this week, my raw yarn finally arrived after quite a delay and I have spent the week catching up on orders, replenishing my stock and filling my yarn wall which was looking a little dreary with all the gaps but it will soon be it's normal bright and cheerful self! :)

I've been up to my elbows in the dye pots and for 2 days had a bright turquiose cheek, I somehow wiped some dye on and never noticed till the evening and by then had a good stain. I tried hard not to go out anywhere but we have to eat - I got some strange looks in the supermarket :) and was tempted a few times to say to the person - "it's because I've been dyeing"!

Anyway, I'm mostly caught up and thought I'd share this photo of the last of the mohair waiting for labels befor they go on the wall and into my ColourSpun shop which you can look at  here.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

What a Yarn


I have thought about this subject nearly all day and have unpacked a good deal of my stash in search of the yarn that makes my heart flutter and they all do. I just love yarn and have found it particularly difficult to choose just one. I do however keep going back to the same few yarns in my stash - they are all hand dyed and hand spun.

If you've been reading my blog, you will know that I am a fairly new spinner and have been spinning yarn for just over half a year now. I love spinning and at the moment my favourite yarns are the ones I have spun using Lexi Boeger's book for inspiration.

The reasons I favour them so are:
a. They are all very different from any yarn available in the shops.
b. Each skein is unique - there is not another one the same anywhere
c. They are all made using natural fibres and are so very soft
d. I made them - for me and therefore they are just the perfect yarn for me :)

Coiled yarn


Granny Stacks


Multi colour


Roses


Nubs

I have so enjoyed taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2010  - Thank you to everyone who has visited here this week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Revisit a past F/O



Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of hole. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much

I have a much loved Denim Jacket that is probably the one item of knitting I have made that has seen more of the world than me. It bears testament to how wonderful recycling can be - made from an old pair of Chris's denim jeans, stash yarn and bits and bobs found in my studio. It was made in 2003 and accepted for that year's Wild Wonderful Wearable exhibition. In 2004 it was accepted by Innovative Threads and spent that year travelling on the exhibition here in SA, in New Zealand and Japan - it also features in the book - Innovative Threads: A Decade of South African Fibre Art  by Lisa Gillespie.

Since then it has travelled with me where ever I go - it's become an old friend... and soon it (or rather an image of it) will be part of an art work made by Jeanette Gilks for our upcoming Fibreworks exhibition  - in Cape Town later this year.

Wild Wonderful Wearable - 2003


the back


close up of one of the panels


close up of the back

Friday, April 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location


I need a whole cyberspace to describe where I like to knit because I like to knit anywhere :)

Seriously though there are a few favourite places. I obviously knit in my studio and yes, I do have a comfy chair (with a little stool to put my feet up). It is placed at the window so that I can take full advantage of the daylight and the sun in the winter.



In the evening, I have another comfy corner in the TV lounge where I knit. The light in there is not that great - in fact its terrible and I am constantly looking for a good lamp that will fit in with the decor - so I knit more simple things at night.



A few friends and I meet once a week at a beautiful little tea room and that is another favourite place to knit.
Linda posted about it this week on her blog

I also knit in the car (though not while I'm driving), and when visiting friends and... I just love knitting - anywhere, anytime!