Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farewell, London Olympics: Union Jack and British crafts

Tonight sees the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics (at 11pm here, unfortunately), and in celebration of the Olympics being held in my favorite city, I spent some time over the last two weeks knitting a mini Union Jack from Debbie Bliss' book, The Knitter's Year. It was my first experiment with intarsia, which is when every separate block of color in a knitting project gets its own string of yarn -- it wasn't hard, but it was definitely messy.

But before embarking on this craft, I'd searched the interwebs for my options on Union Jack crafts. Surprisingly, there's a relative dearth when compared, to say, amigurumi anything, though on the plus side, a lot of the cute patterns I saw online are free.

Clockwise, from left: Double Fat Jack, free tutorial; Union Jack cushion, free tutorial; Mini Stamp PDF chart for cross-stitch, £5; Rowan Union Jack cushion, free pattern. In fact, all of the websites (except for the second one) have other patterns that are just as nice.

I have plans to make my own Union Jack wall hanging, like the one to the left -- I thought it could be a good introduction to quilt-making, which I have been wanting to try. I already have the fabrics -- I stuck with the traditional blue, white and red, though I picked some patterns -- but at the moment, I don't have a sewing machine. Alas.

But this isn't my first go-around with the Union Jack. Last summer, I made a Union Jack clutch using a plastic canvas "frame" from Darice, though I still need to put in a lining. All in all, it was pretty easy. I ended up creating my own pattern -- I counted out the number of squares both vertically and horizontally on both the back and the front, and created a graph (30x37 squares) from one of those online sites (just google graph paper). I also found a picture of a Union Jack online, and I overlaid the graph on top of the Union Jack in the paint application, which gave me a basic pattern to follow.

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  1. Question about the prevalence of knitting in Istanbul. Obviously the sensation has been strong in America for years now and I have friends who are so gaga they're organizing conventions dedicated to the craft. When I lived in Paris you'd sometimes see someone knitting on the métro. Would you say that the youths of Istanbul are similarly engaged?

    And sorry if this has been covered before here. I've not yet read every one of your entries.

  2. 1. I've been wanting to get into quilt making too! I haven't because of lack of space and because I feel like it might be a disaster with my cats around. Keep me updated on the progress!

    2. If Emily and I can't get it together enough to come visit you, maybe we should all go on vacation together in London?!?! I've been wanting to go for a while!


  3. No, I don't think knitting is particularly fashionable here, the way it's been in the US (or elsewhere). I've seen ladies knitting at the street bazaars and markets and there's an amazing building in Eminonu dedicated to selling yarn, but I don't think it's a "cool" thing to do. It seems more of a "granny" thing...though of course, the ladies I've seen aren't much older than I am now. :)

  4. Lauren, I am always up for London!!! On the quilting front, I think it's been fear holding me back. They just seem so intimidating because they're huge...and what if you mess up? But lately, I've seen some cute patterns for little projects, like pillows or tablemats. So I'm thinking of trying something like that as a starter. Maybe the cats would leave you alone for something like that?


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