First try at Sashiko

I purchased a kit for 4 coasters from Sake Puppets on Etsy. It came complete with everything needed to experience Sashiko from start to finish including gorgeous linen blend designer print backing fabric. I also purchased a set of 2 traditional needles, and a leather thimble.

Sashiko coaster kit and purchases as received!

Sashiko coaster kit and purchases as received! Love the personalized note and little handmade bow decoration.

Components of the kit – indigo fabric, backing fabric, thread, needle, carbon (chako) paper, clear transfer sheet, patterns for transferring.

Sake Puppets, Sashiko kit components, and additional items.

Sake Puppets, Sashiko kit components.

I selected this kit rather than the pre-printed mini-kits available from some vendors, as I wanted to understand and be able to execute all aspects of  Sashiko. One of the key skills is transferring the traditional stitching pattern to the indigo.

Transferring the Sashiko stitching pattern onto the indigo fabric!

Transferring the Sashiko stitching pattern onto the indigo fabric!

Transferring the design to the fabric.. make a ‘sandwich’ layering the components together and hold them securely with a couple of bull clips while you trace the pattern with a dry pen or Hera marker.

The sequence of layers is shown below. From bottom to top (left to right):  Indigo, chaco tracing paper, pattern, clear film.

Tranferring the design. components, right to left,bull clips to keep everything in place,  dry pen, clear transfer sheet, sashiko design, chako paper, indigo fabric.

transferring the design. components, right to left,bull clips to keep everything in place, dry pen, clear transfer sheet, sashiko design, chako paper, indigo fabric.

Almost done!

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

I have found that I prefer the shorter of the traditional needles in the package – it is the mid size one overall – and didn’t need the thimble. Quite honestly, had I needed a thimble my regular quilting one would have sufficed.I like the thinner style of Sashiko thread used double, although I haven’t tried the thicker type yet.

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

Sashiko coasters kit from Sake Puppets, almost finished.

I added a single layer of pure wool felt in the centre of each coaster for loft and absorbency.

They just need a quick steaming to finish!

Lucky Frog Jar

I was going to affix pieces of amber to the lid as a handle for this jar..or use a nice rustic bit of jute rope.. or go for  more industrial look with twisted wire. But the glaze colours were not just quite right for the amber, I didn’t have any jute, and only had the wrong type of wire. So I went in search of an alternative.

This is what I found:

luckyfrogjar.detailThis little frog used to be a pendant, but the cord had worn through so he was carefully stored with other tiny treasures. Waiting. Until now. I sat him upon the lid and that is where he wanted to stay.

Lucky Frog Jar. A once pendant becomes the whimsical handle for an earthenware jar.

Lucky Frog Jar. A once pendant becomes the whimsical handle for an earthenware jar.

The glaze colours ( Spectrum low-fire)  used on the white earthenware are: Tortilla on the inside. Black over Burnt Sugar on the outside.

luckyfrog.open

The Lucky Frog is wired onto the lid and a single African glass bead and a silver crimp holds the wire securely in place.

luckyfrogjar.insidelid

Whimsical, practical, functional.

Lucky Frog, indeed!

Throwing porcelain.. on the wheel

Throwing porcelain clay is quite a bit different from throwing earthenware clay. Who knew. Probably many veteran potters. Throwing porcelain is very like throwing cream cheese. Not my analogy, but very accurate, so I will borrow it. Despite its challenges, I love the end result. The finished bowls and mugs seem more robust, whiter, more solid, cleaner… different. Don’t get me wrong, I love my earthenware, and they certainly have their place, but porcelain certainly has its merits. As does slip cast clay (which I quite like) as does stoneware, which is next on my list of clays to experience.

Here is a sampling of my first porcelain pieces. Oh, and did I mention the glazing? A whole new realm of discovery. Check out the slip decoration… there will be more of this!

Large porcelain bowl with coloured slip and clear glaze.

Large porcelain bowl with coloured slip and clear glaze.

Porcelain syrup pitcher. Pulled handle, clear and Toffee glaze.

Porcelain syrup pitcher. Pulled handle, clear and Toffee glazes.

Toadally Teal bowl, overlapping Teal and Toadally green glazes of course!

Toadally Teal bowl, overlapping Teal and Toadally Green glazes of course!

Porcelain bowl with swirls of hazy copper slip decoration over yellow slip

Porcelain bowl with swirls of hazy copper slip decoration over yellow slip

Side view of the Swirling Copper slip bowl. Toffee and clear glaze on the exterior

Side view of the Swirling Copper slip bowl. Toffee and clear glaze on the exterior

Porcelain tea cup with copper slip decoration.

Porcelain tea cup with copper slip decoration.

Clay is a white body porcelain, fired to cone 6 (mid-fire) in an electric kiln.

Cheers,

Coryna

Underglaze explorations, Majolica wannabe bowl

Underglaze is such a great way to  personalise your pottery. Rather than just applying glazes in various combinations (which is quite pleasing, and really much more tricky than it may sound) underglazing allows you to paint designs on your work without the worry that your image or text will run and/or distort.

Majolica wannabe bowl/planter. Underglaze decoration on earthenware.

Majolica wannabe bowl/planter. Underglaze decoration on earthenware.

I call this my Majolica wannabe bowl. As  a rule, I tend to favour dark colours, but I  also have a feminine side which adores flowers and pretty colours. Maybe it is the desperate longing for spring, but recently I  am more drawn to shades of red, orange, pink, and yellow.

With tomatoes for a sense of scale.  This piece is 6.5 inches in diameter and stands 5.5 inches tall.

With tomatoes for a sense of scale. This piece is 6.5 inches in diameter and stands 5.5 inches tall.

This is a  good-sized bowl. White Earthenware clay, wheel thrown, trimmed, embossed with a few blossoms on base of the interior and one cheeky scorpion, just for fun!

Let's not forget the interior. This one features a few sakura blossom impresions and a tiny scorpion. Just a touch of whimsy!

Let’s not forget the interior. This one features a few sakura blossom impressions and a tiny scorpion for just a touch of whimsy!

Pretty base. I always try to think about all surfaces of an object. This leads to a more harmonious colour palette.

Pretty base. I always try to think about all surfaces of an object. This leads to a more harmonious colour palette.

Underglaze decoration of stylized flowers and leaves was painted on the bisqued pot.
Spectrum underglaze colours used were:Fire Engine Red, Mid-Green, Prussian Blue, Bright Yellow, and Walnut Brown.
Once dry, I applied Spectrum Low-fire glazes overtop.

For the interior, rim and base of the pot I chose Evening Shadow, a lovely semi-transparent grey green with a glossy finish.

For the exterior of the pot I wanted to use a glaze that would not obscure the design or alter the underglaze colours too much, Clear Pink is what I used.

Interior has a bit of mid green underglaze to give additional depth to the Evening Shadow glaze.

Interior has a bit of mid green underglaze to give additional depth to the Evening Shadow glaze.

I think it turned out rather nicely.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Have a fabulous day,

Coryna

Fudgey Brownies, Black Forest style

I have three, or maybe four, brownie recipes in my repertoire of ‘squares’.

This may be my favourite. When you want dense, chewy, really chocolatey goodness, these are fab!

I made these on Valentine’s Day and dressed them up Black Forest Style with sour cherry sauce.

A dollop of freshly whipped cream would not have gone amiss; but there was none in the fridge and  they tasted just fine without it. No need to gild the lily!

Fudgey Brownies with sour cherry sauce and dusted with icing sugar.

Fudgey Brownies with sour cherry sauce and dusted with icing sugar.

A slightly unusual method, but trust me, this works! Best results are obtained when you use top quality, and preferably organic ingredients. And only one bowl to wash up!

Coryna’s Fudgey Brownies

3/4 cup organic cocoa ( I like Green & Black’s)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup melted butter (if using unsalted, add a pinch of sea salt to the batter)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 (scant) cups white sugar
2 large eggs (organic, free range)
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

optional:
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Sour Cherry Sauce
2 cups canned sour* cherries in light syrup (these usually come in clear glass jars)
2-3 tablespoons sugar
3-4 teaspoons cornstarch

*Sour cherries really are the best for baking, whether for pies or sauce such as this. Sweet cherries will not give the same sweet-tart taste that compliments the dark chocolate so well.

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
Butter and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan, or two  9×9 pans

Sift the cocoa and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
Add half of the melted butter.
Blend on low. Stop the mixer and pour in the boiling water.
Beat until thick – start slowly, you don’t want to get splashed by the hot water. If you have a spatter shield, use it!
Add the remaining melted butter, the sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the mixture. Beat well.
Finally, stir in the flour (and the walnuts, if you are adding them).

Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s).
Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes*.
* Time will vary depending on the pan you have used, how thick or thin the batter is spread out and the oven. You can check with a knife or skewer. If it comes out clean, your brownies are done.

Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool in the pan on a wire rack.

While the brownies are baking, make the cherry sauce.

Sour Cherry Sauce
Pour the cherries and most of the liquid into a saucepan.
Add the sugar to the cherries.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2-4 tablespoons of the cherry liquid until smooth.
Heat the cherries and sugar over medium high heat.
When they come to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture.
Bring to a gentle boil stirring softly, but constantly.
When thickened, remove from heat.

Serving

Cut the brownies, garnish with a spoonful of cherry sauce, dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy!

Sour Cherries in syrup, product of Hungary!

Sour Cherries in syrup, product of Hungary!

Since fresh sour cherries are not in season just now and even when they are, they are overshadowed by their sweet cousins, canned cherries are just fine.

I was so pleased to find this jar of Hungarian pitted sour cherries at the local grocer’s. Love the ingredient list…sour cherries, water, sugar. That’s it!

 

Principessa Beret, lace and cables for every princess

What’s your princess style? Pampered or passionate, petulant or playful, philosophical or philanthropic, physically fit…no matter what your princess style from Italian Principessa to Celtic Warrior Goddess, this richly cabled beret will serve you well.

I was asked very sweetly by a friend if it might be possible to make a beret pattern to match my popular Principessa Fingerless Gloves…

Principessa Fingerless Gloves. Cables and Lace form mirror images on the hands.

Principessa Fingerless Gloves, made with Fortissima Socka. 200 metres will make a pair.

How could I say no?! This is what I came up with…

Principessa Beret, cables and lace.  New pattern from HeathcoteRoad.co.uk

Principessa Beret, cables and lace in pleasing symmetry. Made with Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply.  182 metres for the size medium, classic.

I am pleased with how this turned out. Light and airy, yet warm when made with pure wool. Soft and feminine, but structured and well, cabled!

This tam is worked in the round from the band to the crown, the pattern is fully charted. Complex looking, but really quite straightforward in execution. Three sizes and two styles should ensure something for every Principessa!

210 metres of fingering weight yarn in either pure wool or a wool blend will make all sizes and styles. More technical details and photographs can be found on Ravelry,  where you can purchase the pattern, or you can buy it here.

Pricipessa Beret, back view. Lovely symmetry of lace. Shown in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply,  pure wool.

Pricipessa Beret, back view. Lovely symmetry of lace. Shown in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply, pure wool.

Principessa Beret,  ribbing detail.

Principessa Beret, ribbing detail.

 

Principessa Beret, top veiw. 8 lace medallions reducing to 4 at the crown.

Principessa Beret, top view. 8 lace medallions reducing to 4 at the crown.

Or why not make a matching set? 100 g of fingering or sock weight yarn will make a pair of gloves and a beret.

Enjoy!

Paestum Beret… new pattern honouring ancient architecture

This beret, like the matching gloves, is inspired by the ancient Greek Architecture of Paestum, Italy. The ribbed band recalls the columns of the great temple of Hera, the amphora lace is tribute to the ancient pottery works and the blossoms pay homage to the spectacular Roses of Paestum.

Full details of the construction can be found here.

In practical terms, this is a very wearable beret. Simple construction, clean lines, lacy but not fussy,  perfect for any outfit depending on the yarn and colour you choose.
Paestum.beret.a

The pattern comes in four sizes, ladies extra small, small, medium and large. Two styles will accommodate your personal taste. The standard or traditional style is a bit more fitted and has fewer lace pattern repeats for a neater, more tailored fit like a classic felted wool beret.

The slouchy version is fuller, and has more lace repeats for extended length. This additional fabric  lends the finished beret a softer, more unstructured appearance.

paestum.beret.b

The best yarn to showcase a lace and textural pattern like this is a tonal or solid colour. But this hand-dyed stippled yarn from Canadian independent dyer Rhichard Devrieze, was just too tempting.. and I think it turned out to be just fabulous.  The yarn is Peppino, a fingering weight superwash merino, in the colourway is called Sonora. It is one of my favourite berets and this yarn is very recommended.

Paestum Beret, top view.  Lace, flowers, broken ribbing. Classic and elegant.

Paestum Beret, top view. Lace, flowers, broken ribbing. Classic and elegant.

A bit of nitty-gritty on the pattern. Make your own Paestum with 1 skein of Peppino by The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze for the standard versions, all sizes. Two skeins will make all sizes of the slouchy style with some to spare. Recommended gauge is 28 stitches in 10 cm (4 in.) in stockinette.

My Paestum Beret is size medium, standard style and took 54 g (171 m.) of fingering weight yarn.

paestum.beret.edgeIf you want a matched set, the Paestum Fingerless Gloves are just the ticket. You can find them here or here.

Have a beautiful day!

Coryna

Contemplating Hera.  Paestum, Italy. I want to go back.

Contemplating Hera. Paestum, Italy. I want to go back.

Red yarn to warm up the winter… and a new yarn bowl

It’s cold and grey and dreary mid winter. It is at this time of year that I seem especially to favour the rich and vibrant colour red.

Last winter I sought out the perfect red lipstick, and found it in Mac’s Russian Red.

This year, the colour is Cherry; not lipstick, but a soft and lovely tonal pure merino sock wool from Fyberspates.

A couple of days ago I decided that I should finally use this gorgeous yarn that I bought in Scotland more than a couple of years ago now. It is working up rather quickly. Cables are so rewarding! and the wrapped stitches are sweet.

Fyberspates merino yarn in Cherry. Newest yarn bowl and strong black coffee.

Fyberspates merino yarn in Cherry. Newest yarn bowl and strong black coffee.

Testing out my newest yarn bowl too. It is a pretty and compact version. Perfect for lace, fingering or other fine yarn. It holds a 100 gram yarn cake of Fyberspates fingering yarn perfectly.

Newer, smalleish yarn bowl. Perfect for lace or fingering weight yarn. holds 100 g easily.

Newer, smallish yarn bowl. Perfect for lace or fingering weight yarn. holds 100 g easily.

The glaze is a bit of a surprise. The lovely soft speckled green tone of the exterior is a Spectrum Low fire (cone 04-06) glaze Tortilla, followed by Evening Shadow.
Inside Stardust is the perfect base for layers of iceberg, teal and evening shadow.

Evening Torilla yarn bowl. Interior view.

Evening Tortilla yarn bowl. Interior view.

Be warm, and knit with joy!

Coryna

A Betta Bowl…

Recently I was busy painting a series of cardstock for presenting my handmade ceramic buttons on. One of the images I came up with was a stylized Betta or Siamese Fighting fish.

Betta in watercolour,  dragonfly glaze on the button.

Betta in watercolour, Dragonfly glaze on the button.

I quite liked it and thought it might look pretty on a bowl too.

I hand painted the design on a bisqued pot with Prussian Blue underglaze.  The underglaze worked surprisingly a lot like watercolour.  Watered down it was lovely and sheer, applied more heavily it provided greater coverage and depth of colour.

Once the design was painted on the exterior of the bisqued pot, two coats of  Clear Blue glaze was applied  overtop.

Betta Bowl, planter. Design in Prussian blue underglaze with clear blue glaze overtop.

Betta Bowl, planter. Design in Prussian blue underglaze with Clear Blue glaze overtop.

 

Simple stylized plants around the pot.

Betta Bowl. The sea vegetables continue around the pot.

Betta Bowl. The sea vegetables continue around the pot.

I  wanted a watery blue-green for the interior of the pot to keep in the aquatic theme.

Stardust as the base, then a mixture of iceberg, clear blue and old copper.  Finally I spattered some holly green about the interior surface in a random manner to mimic sea vegetation.

Betta Bowl, Interior. The watery blues and greens are a fitting balance to the soft blue exterior.

Betta Bowl, Interior. The watery blues and greens are a fitting balance to the soft blue exterior.

Betta Bowl, interior, calm, yet inspiring.

Betta Bowl, interior, calm, yet inspiring.

The trimmed foot turned out particularly nicely with its inward facing angle.

Betta Bowl, profile. Pleasing shape, but especially fond of the carved footring.

Betta Bowl, profile. Pleasing shape, but especially fond of the carved foot ring.

Now I want to experiment with  how different colours of underglaze work together, but for now, I am pleased with how the Betta Bowl and its whimsical image and soothing colour palette.

Have a beautiful, and creative day!

 

Tuscan Sun glaze, Le Leopard and a honey pot

Sometimes the Kiln Gods smile. On the day this large bowl was fired, they did.

Tuscan Leopard. side view

Tuscan Leopard. side view

Sometimes a bowl need to be glazed and re-glazed to get it to look just perfect. Not this time.

The base layer of Gator lends a unique texture to the glazes that sits atop it. A layer of Tuscan Sun followed. The final layer on the outside was Snow White, while the inside got a magnanimous swirl of Mango, Fire Engine Red and Light Peach. A bit of Stardust to finish the edge…

Tuscan Leopard bowl. This is what happens when the Kiln Gods smile!

Tuscan Leopard bowl. This is what happens when the Kiln Gods smile!

I am pleased. A bowl like this that comes from the kiln without need of touch ups, dremeling to remove errant bits of flotsam etc.. one like this makes up for the glaze combinations that are less than stellar, and for those pieces who are fated for more work to put them right.
This one is staying in the private collection!

Tuscan Leopard bowl. Interior view. Wonderful texture and colours.

Tuscan Leopard bowl. Interior view. Wonderful texture and colours.

 

And just to show how different a similar combination can be: the Honey Pot. Named for its shape, evocative of old-fashioned honey dishes.

Tuscan Honey Pot

Tuscan Honey Pot

The base glaze here is the Gator which lends the piece its distinctive spots. Tuscan Sun, then Fire Engine Red overtop. Nice, actually, but not quite the wow factor of the Tuscan Leopard!
Hope your New Year is off to a marvellous beginning.

It is, after all, up to you!