I rejoice to report that the Amarna Backpack is finished!
Well, nearly. It is in want of a lining, and it needs a weight in the end of the strap that weighs down the top.. But I have finished and assembled the bag itself, and in the process I have learnt that I am not keen on constricted tubes of crochet – so not keen that I ended up doing broader tubes. They might have taken more yarn, but they involved less muttering!
The pattern worked out rather well, I think. It is deeper than the pattern in the magazine, and more complex, because the main section involves three colours in each row. The three yarns tangled constantly while I was working this section, and the pattern hasn’t quite turned out as neatly or as evenly as I might have hoped, but I am still rather pleased that it is genuinely reminiscent of the inspiration!
I may have to change the placement of the straps, but until I have used it a few times – I want to carry sketching things in it – I won’t be sure what will be comfortable, or even useable…
I went to the knitting shop where I bought the materials just before Christmas, to buy materials for another project, and was highly entertained to find that I am there known as “The Egyptian Bag Lady”, because the project intrigued them so much. So next time I go, I must remember to take the backpack with me so they can see it.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter will have noticed that the embroidery you mostly see has been supplemented by the occasional piece of crochet over the past few months. I’ve found my crochet projects easier to travel with than embroidery, and it’s a different sort of puzzle to solve.
I’ve done a few shawls or scarves, and a pair of socks, and while I try to work out whether crocheted lacy socks are really “me”, I thought I would try something else that isn’t flat. Issue fifty five of Simply Crochet contained a backpack project designed by Ilaria Caliri. The colours didn’t really appeal to me, but the idea of the structure, and the tapestry crochet band across the middle, definitely did.
I started playing around with ideas for colours and designs, and it took me really quite some time to settle on something simple and repetitive enough that it might actually work. The dreadful picture of a picture at the beginning of this post is one of the pictures I took when the EES let me spend a day in their library, and I think that the fact it was so poor really helped me to cut out frills.
The backpack will be navy blue, and the tapestry crochet band is a series of petal shapes in turquoise and lapis, with a background of gold, and bordered with carnelian (approximately!). I had a lovely half hour in SMD Knitting while we found the right shades of acrylic aran-weight yarn, and now all I have to do (all!) is decide whether my petals will be broad end up or broad end down and then get to work…
I don’t usually join in “craftivism”, but I heard about this one just before the Bank Holiday Weekend and decided to. For those who haven’t heard of it, there is now a Facebook Group and if you search for the hashtag “AHeart4MCR” on Instagram or Twitter you will see plenty of responses. The outpouring of love and support for those injured or otherwise affected by the attack last week remains our best, and indeed only, useful response.
Let’s keep it up!
I sat happily stitching these felt hearts through all of Saturday afternoon. There’s nothing complicated about any of them, certainly not by my standards, but each is different, some stitched, some couched, and all the threads are either linen or silk. I didn’t make a pattern, thought, and I should have, because they were all a bit ragged and needed trimming!
Each heart is backed with a second layer of felt to hide any extraneous ends, and I have, as the originator suggested, attached hanging loops.
Then on Sunday, I fished out a crochet hook and thread, and rummaged on Ravelry for a simple crochet heart pattern via Ravelry and tried a trio of those too. You may believe it, but these are all the same pattern, and yet no two of them are alike.
However, they are the first crochet motifs I’ve ever made, and are full of good wishes for those who eventually receive them.
And now, the Finale…
“Angels need wings. I have never made big wings before, only gauzy ones, so these grew a bit like Topsy! I had, fortuitously, a ball of crochet cotton which exactly matched Gabrielle’s dress, but I had already used crochet to make the lace on the overdress. Needlelace seemed an option if I could find a suitable former to hand. Wire proved to be too thin, and the thread slipped about, so in the end I made a frame from one strand of the plastic coated wire of electric cable. Yes, I know you can buy purpose made formers but I wanted to do it now.
After drawing the shape on heavy card, and arriving at a good shape was an interesting exercise in its own right, I couched on the wire at widely spaced intervals, then covered the wire and its plastic coat in blanket stitch using my turquoise crochet cotton. Not only did this cover the wire but it provided a anchor for the needlelace itself. I used pea stitch at first then increased the number of loops in each group first to five and then to seven to add “weight” towards the lower edge. I hadn’t provided a former across that edge as I didn’t want it to be rigid, but needlelace requires just such an edge! A single thread helped a bit but a piece of applied crotchet finally did the trick.
She looked balanced, if a bit subfusc for Christmas, so I added sequins, left over from one of Rachel’s childhood projects, mainly cup-shaped but the lower ones are long ovals to suggest pinions. Again, the colours, turquoise and silver, were a perfect match. Some people have all the luck. Rachel added crystals to increase the “bling”. The halo is a cardboard former covered with cloth of gold. I used the gathered side to suggest an aura of radiating holiness and backstitched a banner “Gloria in excelsis Deo” in red on cloth of gold, too.”
We timed our photography just right, too – the last sunny day of Autumn, before the weather turned thoroughly nasty on us…
Outside, hanging from a fir branch in the garden, Gabrielle made a remarkably effective member of the heavenly choir.
Lest you imagine my talent for complex projects sprang out of nowhere, I have asked my mother to write a couple of guest posts about one of hers – Gabrielle, the Christmas Tree Angel. Gabrielle figured on our Christmas cards this year, and she took nearly a year because she was being improvised as she went along.
“Looking at my collection of crochet hooks, I decided that I needed to do something quickly if I wanted to use the smallest one before my eyesight made it too difficult. I am becoming increasingly long sighted as the years progress, and my myopic Impressionist wonderland is receding. Coincidentally, it was Christmas tide, and we had just rejuvenated Bethlehem. (Ask Rachel!) A Christmas Angel for the top of the tree seemed the next proper project.
Gabrielle herself is one of Rachel’s dolls, rediscovered when we were tidying the loft. She is just the right size for our Christmas tree. A rummage through my stash of cloth provided enough satin, a beautiful turquoise, and a square of fine silk which had been the Virgin’s veil when we made a crib one year using Rachel’s dolls as the cast.
To make the dress I cut out a cross shape wide at the top and bottom narrowing towards the crossing place out of the turquoise satin. The cross piece itself, which formed the sleeves, was short and narrow. I hemmed the cuffs and a small opening for her head before folding bottom to top and sewing the side seams.
Next I tackled the silk over-dress. A line of open blanket stitch along the selvedge gave me a base for the crochet work I so wanted to do. Again, I used ordinary sewing thread and kept the design simple. It was surprisingly easy to work. In no time I had a sizeable length of delicate lace.
The original intention had been to make a cottar such as altar boys used to wear, but the very small size and filmy silk made my stitching look crude. Instead I used two pieces of folded silk over the shoulders fastened lightly to the satin and covered the raw ends with the very gathered edge of my lace bordered silk. It looks more like a pinny, but billowing satin displays the lace beautifully.”