My new craft group sometimes runs workshops, usually taught by one of the members, and I immediately signed up to make my own knickers because why wouldn’t you? That class is planned for October and, as I’ve tried before and failed, I’ll be interested to see if I can make a decent pair of apple catchers under instruction.
As we now live in Dorset and are lucky to have an expert in smocking and Dorset Button making it seemed a no-brainer to sign up for Rosalind’s class for beginners. (Ros made the buttons for the most recent Poldark series so she knows what she’s about although, sadly, she didn’t get to personally attach them to Aiden Turner).
This was the tempting display of some of the different buttons that can be made employing this heritage craft.
The choice of colours was a dilemma for me but, as usual, I was drawn towards the blues.
First you do ‘the casting’ which means wrapping the ring (brass in this case) with the thread using a blanket stitch.
We made a Cartwheel Button so ‘the laying’ involves making the spokes and ‘the rounding’ involves weaving round those spokes until you’ve filled the gaps.
I found the hardest bit was ensuring you got the ‘hub’ of the wheel in the centre as you can tell in the photo below. The pink one was my second practice piece and was even more off centre than the first one. Still, if I knew what I was doing I wouldn’t have needed to do a workshop would I?
There were six of us in the class and we all managed a couple of buttons which wasn’t bad in the couple of hours we had.
While we were working and weaving, Ros told us about the history of the Dorset Button and, if you want to know more, you can read about it on her website here. I was interested to hear that – reputedly – King Charles I went to the chopping block wearing jackets adorned with these buttons. He wore the jackets to stop him shivering in the cold in case onlookers thought he was quaking with fear – as I most certainly would have been.
Anyway, Ros sells the supplies to make more buttons and, although I don’t really need another craft in my life, this one needs very little in the way of equipment and it isn’t expensive and it is also very portable and – there were kits!
So, of course, I had to buy one.
Luckily, I have a drawer full of different colours of cotton perle thread – I don’t remember why – so, the next day, I made another button to fix the method in my mind and, this time, I got the centre almost right. Maybe it’s because I remembered to put my glasses on which, for some reason, I hadn’t done at the workshop.
Today it is gloriously sunny and beautiful so I am going to sit in the garden with a book and, just maybe, a brass ring or two and some needle and thread.
Have a lovely weekend wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.