Archive for category Arts and Crafts

Oh My Buttons!

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 andthere 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.

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The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, in the northern hemisphere, the days between the 3rd of July and 11th of August are known as the dog days which are considered to be the hottest days of summer..  In my lovely corner of England, nobody appears to have told the sun. I don’t mind because, in the end,  I didn’t like it in Southern France when it got too hot to go out in comfortably.   I have discovered that the temperate climate of England suits me and, when we get good weather, it’s such a treat that everybody makes the most of it and never takes it for granted.

Still, last weekend my very good friend Sarah, drove the three hours from London to see me in our new house.  She arrived Thursday afternoon and we did a tour of the immediate surroundings so she could see the resting race horses, the rams and the Ladies in Waiting – the cows who are in the field opposite full-time at the moment waiting to calve.  I was especially  hoping for good weather on Friday so we could get out and about a little further afield.  Luckily, Friday was a lovely day so we went to another beach  just to ‘mill about’ and then we walked into the local market town of Bridport. 17,000 steps if you’re at all interested.  She, being a triathlete, has a Fitbit thingy on her wrist so I know it to be true.

The beach we visited is West Bay – more stunning cliffs along the Jurassic Coast.  This was the setting for ‘Broadchurch’ and also the place where Gabriel Oak’s errant sheepdog drove his entire flock of sheep to their deaths in the 2015 film version of ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ (very good by the way but no substitute for the book).

There are always some brave souls ready to make the most of the sunshine.

Close up, the texture and colour of the cliff face looks as if somebody has built a giant sandcastle.

Anyway, back to dogs – sort of.  Do you remember this stitch and flip dog’s face I made yonks ago which, like the paper pieced gnome I showed you recently, I didn’t quite know what to do with afterwards?  Well, I thought I’d use it as the central motif for another quilt for Project Linus UK but, this time, a slightly larger version measuring 36×42 inches which is the size requested for young children.

The block is rectangular – but in the wrong way for a quilt – so I searched my stash and made up the measurements as I went along, in order to utilise the fabric I had and get it to the right size.

I put a large spotted border around the outside and then remembered a dog print fabric I’d bought ages ago for face masks (Miss T. the Elder has one)  so started to make a further border with that using a greater width top and bottom in order to get the rectangular shape going.

One of the lessons I learnt early on in patchwork was to measure through the middle of the piece and cut your border to that size rather than to the size of the sides.  I forgot and ended up with a very wavy quilt top which became apparent when I put the first of the batik borders on.  OOPS!.  So, I had to take all the borders back off (apart from the spotted one) and was amazed at how much shorter I’d cut the doggy print fabric – what was I thinking?  I got creative and made up the shortfall by inserting a small piece of batik on each side.  I think it looks intentional 😉

Anyway, it turned out alright in the end.  The red batik is actually all the same shade but the light wasn’t good in my workroom for the photo so it looks as if it’s lighter at the bottom but it’s not.

Just need to sandwich it together with the wadding and backing, then bind it and quilt it as simply as possible.   I didn’t have enough of any suitable backing fabric in my stash and I had in mind some  dog paw print fabric so I broke my ‘no more fabric until I’m 110‘ rule and ordered a bargain piece online.

I’ll show you it when it’s finished.

I just hope there’s a small child in need of a quilt out there who also loves dogs!!

 

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A New Home For A Gnome

Around 18 months ago I showed you this gnome that I had made using the foundation paper piecing method……just because.

It’s a twelve inch finished block that ended up in my Parts Department as I didn’t really know what to do with it after I made it.  Ever get that feeling?

Anyway, the crafting group I joined a few weeks ago is committed to supporting Project Linus UK** and, although I can’t face piecing and quilting anything large at the moment, a small baby quilt measuring around 30 x 30 inches is eminently doable and will fit nicely under my machine for some rudimentary quilting (which is the only quilting I do).

So, the first step was to cut off those little black beads I’d used for his eyes, promptly lose them down the cracks in my floorboards,  and replace them with my even more rudimentary embroidery.

Then, using my stash and scraps, I did a spotted border to reflect those spots on his top and red cornerstones to pick up the hat.

Also in my Parts Department, I had the remains of a batik charm pack and then cut the cornerstones from fabric left over from a quilt I made for my niece’s baby a couple of years ago.

I used a cream fabric with a slightly embossed design for the border and the same fabric I used for the cornerstones as a backing.

Then I marked the quilt top with a simple, diagonal cross hatch design ready for machine quilting.

I had a fat quarter of Provencal fabric in my stash which, with a few joins and a bit of luck, was just enough to make the binding.

To give credit where credit’s due, Miss Tialys the Younger joined a lot of the ¼ inch seams for me while I did the measuring and cutting and, because she’s learning, she probably took much more care than I do.

I hope the baby and his/her parents like this little quilt and it brightens up their days which might have had a traumatic start of one sort or another.

Next, I have a paper pieced dog’s face in the Parts Department which I might treat in a similar way to this but make it rectangular for a bassinet.

While Miss T. the Younger was in the swing of things we made some tote bags together so now she has her own hand made ‘bags for life’ to go shopping with and I have another two to add to my collection,  We made them with box corners rather than the more simple shape as I find them much more useful for grocery shopping,

Again, I did all the measuring and cutting out but, hopefully, she’ll show an interest in doing that too eventually 🙄  Still, even if she doesn’t, it’s nice to spend time together doing something creative when she visits.  Plus, yet more stash fabric gets used up in a useful way.  Those first two fabrics are from Ikea I don’t know how many moons ago.

 

** from the Project Linus website:

“Project Linus UK is a volunteer organisation. We aim to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home made patchwork quilts and knitted blankets, and give volunteers across the UK the opportunity to contribute to their local community.”

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Scraphappy Day June 2021

Nothing better to do on my birthday so I’ve made my daughter some hair scrunchies from scraps – she actually helped make them as part of her pledge to get more confident on the sewing machine.

So many scraps and bits and pieces of elastic left over from masks – the compulsory use of which has now been extended for at least another four weeks in England, due to fears about another variant, despite the vast majority of the more vulnerable being double vaccinated.  I don’t like the sound of that ‘at least’.  Oh well.

Only joking about nothing better to do for my birthday – we made them yesterday and Mr, Tialys and I are going out for a slap up meal tonight with favourite sister-in-law and her other half.  A great excuse to wear a ‘frock’.

Talking of Mr. T., he has made a rustic divider/wind break structure for one of the flower beds using yet more pieces of wood found scattered around the garden.

It’s rather stylish so I suppose I’d better include it too otherwise he’ll be a bit miffed.

Plus, let’s be honest, it’s much more impressive than a few hair scrunchies.

 

 

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

 

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41 Comments

Yesterday Was A Good Day

I found a crafting group!

As most of you know, we moved back to England from France in November and, after quarantining for two weeks there was a brief period of relative freedom before going into quite hard lockdown again.  I saw a few of my new neighbours whilst out dog walking but haven’t been out and about apart from ‘necessary’ shopping.

We have an artisan centre in the next village which has now opened again and, in one corner of the Makers’ Gallery they have a pop-up display from a local artist which is changed every two weeks.  I saw some beautiful knitted pieces and very large crocheted mandala in copper hoops there and, by chance, I found the artist on Facebook and noticed she runs a crafting group that meets every Thursday and it is up and running again.  Be still my heart.

It’s a half hour’s drive away through winding country lanes but where there’s a will there’s a way and there was definitely a will.

The group meets in a village hall and as the sun was finally shining, and the view was lovely (see above), we sat outside next to the little river and I started to get to know some of the people.

There are knitters, crocheters, weavers and spinners, needlepointers (?), quilters, dressmakers and all kinds of everything.  One of the members raises funds for the Linus Trust and they are making quilts for premature babies, full term ones, children and teens.  As I like nothing more than an excuse to make small quilts, I’ll be rooting through my fabric stash and making two or three of those. I took some simple knitting to do but it wasn’t simple enough apparently as, when I got home, I realised I’d made a few mistakes because I’d been enthusiastically chatting – so had to undo what I’d done, which luckily wasn’t much.

The club organises workshops and I do love a good workshop.  On offer yesterday to sign up for were:

Beginner’s Embroidery  – (need but don’t want)

Spinning and Weaving –  (don’t need but might secretly want)

Knicker Making – (yes! Signed up)

Dorset Buttons – (signed up,wondered why, was thinking of crossing out my name,  then was told the lady who teaches it is the Dorset Button lady and so, added to the fact that I now live in Dorset, why wouldn’t I give it a try?

Watch this space for knickers and fancy buttons.

The lady next to me yesterday was weaving a Jacob fleece into a rug – I can’t wait to see it but, being a newbie, I didn’t feel I could take photos of the goings on quite yet so, until I have ingratiated myself into the group a bit more, here are some pics from my dog walk  instead because I took them and therefore must inflict them on you.   The theme is white and wild, apart from the little viola.

Hawthorn

Ramsons – Wild Garlic

Queen Anne’s Lace plus Stan (who peed on it afterwards)

Haven’t a Scooby

Again, some sort of white wildflower – the head gardener isn’t here today to advise.

Edit: Stitchwort, thank you Wild Daffodil & now returned Head Gardener.

Just to make the day perfect, an independent boutique has opened up in the next village and it has lovely, unusual(ish) clothes at decent prices.  I felt as if I had to show my support. I was gratified to see that they wrapped my purchases in tissue and put them in a brown paper carrier bag.  I know plastic bags are awful but there’s nothing that takes the joy out of buying clothes (or underwear as has happened to me) when they are just rolled up and handed to you to stuff in your handbag.

Then I booked a table for four for my birthday dinner in a couple of weeks’ time for me, Mr. T., my favourite sister-in-law and her OH in a lovely country pub.

What will today bring?

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #33

Another brief visit for a Tuesday.

Remember my struggles with the Fisherman’s Rib stitch?

Every mistake shows and is difficult to put right.

Well, I persevered and finished it and as every cloud – and there have been quite a lot of them – has a silver lining, it’s still cold enough to wear it in the middle of May.

Farewell Fisherman’s Rib – I’d like to say it’s been fun but it hasn’t so I won’t be troubling you again.

Do you have something in the artsy fartsy/crafting line you’ve tried once and decided once was enough?

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Scraphappy May 2021

It’s time to make things with scraps again and, this time, I’ve gone back to fabric scraps and it’s a ridiculously simple project so apologies in advance but scraps are scraps.

After moving house, I’ve never really got around to totally reorganising my sewing/craft supplies but, as you can see above, I’m trying.

I noticed a tutorial for make up remover pads (find it here) and I thought immediately of Scraphappy day and the fact that the pads call for 4.5 inch squares which I actually had pre-cut in my Parts Department box.

See!

Nobody is more surprised than me when I occasionally show signs of being organised.

The tutorial suggests using a bamboo velour for the actual cleansing pad part – probably because the shop sells it which is fair enough but I remembered an old cotton flanelette sheet I used for auditioning quilt blocks on and thought that would make a good substitute.

So, 4.5 inch squares of scrap cotton fabric sewn to 4.5 inch squares of soft flanelette right sides together, turned right side out and top stitched.

I told you it was ridiculously simple.

I have tested them out and I prefer them to the little crochet rounds I made before for the same purpose because these have more surface area and are more absorbent.  The flanelette seems to work really well but you could also use some old soft towelling.

Having made these I thought I’d follow the rest of the tutorial which has a zippered pouch with waterproof lining to put the used pads in and a side pocket to separate the clean ones.

I gave away the bulk of my scrap stash before leaving France but, luckily, a few scraps survived the move and I have started a new scrap collection already.

So, it was easy to find enough bits to make the pouch and, long ago, a friend had given me a length of waterproof fabric (PUL??) that I unearthed to use for the inside.

So some scraps used and lots of cotton pads unused which can only be a good thing.

Everything can go in the washing machine ready to re-use next time I get round to bothering to wear any make-up other than mascara which, once masks are no longer needed (fingers crossed) I might actually do.

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

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I’m Having a Knitfest

Remember me struggling with the fisherman’s rib stitch jumper?  The stitch makes a great looking fabric but every mistake shows and it’s very hard to put them right.  Anyway, having undone almost the whole thing once, I persevered and now I have a back, front and almost one sleeve so it looks as if I might have a wearable ‘slob around the place’ jumper at the end of it after all.

I need another blanket/quilt/throw like a hole in the head but I was sorely tempted by this knit along (KAL) run by Black Sheep Wools and designed by Sarah Haddon.  It’s called ‘A Day Out’ and I liked the idea of lots of squares made with different knitting techniques so I thought I’d do it and call it a learning curve.

The above example was made with one of the colour packs put together by Black Sheep Wools but it’s a merino wool which is not as easy care as acrylic and, much as I would prefer merino, any home furnishings in this house need to be as dog and cat proof as much as possible. So I tried to find similar colours in the alternative yarn (Sylecraft Special Aran) but couldn’t see a similar purple so substituted a dark charcoal.

So, full of good intentions and unreasonable expectations I joined the Facebook support group and cast on for the first of many 20cm squares.  The new squares have been introduced weekly on Tuesdays and some new (to me) techniques were involved and looked a bit scary

Week one was fun and we had to make four of these.

I finally gave in and bought some foam interlocking mats which were much cheaper than proper blocking mats – although I did treat myself to those rather cheerful rainbow blocking pins.  A lot of people don’t block at all – let alone acrylic yarn – but I find pinning the squares out to size and giving it a couple of squirts with the steam iron held a a few inches above, not touching the yarn, works wonders in getting the size right and opening out the pattern.

Week 2 was mosaic knitting which I thought would be very scary.  However, it wasn’t scary at all and I enjoyed it.  Quite difficult to see the effect in the subtle colours I’ve chosen (I have lots of crochet blankets in bright colours so wanted a change) but this square proved to be my undoing in the process of trying to keep up in the KAL as we had to do eight of this particular one and I just don’t knit that fast or that often.

So, once I made five I decided to come back to this one and carry on with the following week and, up to now, have managed at least one of the new blocks released each  week just to try them and give myself some encouragement and will go back and finish the others in the fulness of time.

Here’s week number three’s square, a pretty lacy sort of design.

Week four looked very scary but it turned out to be one of my favourites and was actually quite simple. You make the inner cabled square and then, one side at a time, pick up the stitches on each side and do the stripy garter stitch to make it into a 20cm square with the inner square on point.

I was also happy to see my charcoal coloured yarn introduced into the three colour mix as there are only  three colours and I was getting fed up with only using two.

I love this mosaic square for week five.

Week six was a bobbly pattern which involved a different technique than the usual one for making bobbles which some liked, some didn’t, There have been quite a lot of mavericks on the Facebook group going off in different directions or substituting different blocks for the ones they found too difficult or just not to their liking,

Week seven was one some people weren’t keen on,  It could be worked flat or in the round – I’m not keen on circular needles so did mine flat.  It was quite fascinating the way it started off with a lot of stitches then gradually decreased in a clever way until it looked all frilly on the needles.

Then, when you cast off, and after sewing up one seam, it turns into this square.

Clever eh?

Fascinating to make but it’s not my favourite and we have to do eight of them.  I’ll probably make four and do a different pattern for the other four – somebody on the FB group has come up with one that looks nice so I’ll use that, I’m not proud.

Anyway, this is where I am up to so far.  Long way to go  but there’s no rush.

Which is just as well because now I have my knitting mojo back I bought this….

to make this

and this

to make this.

What am I like?

That second pattern with the star in relief wouldn’t have caught my eye if I’d just seen the pattern leaflet but, when I went to the local ‘town’ the other day, I noticed there is a yarn/fabric/haberdashery shop – Glory Be! – and they had the finished article in blue on a mannequin in the window and it looked really good. So it is now in my ‘knitting whilst watching (although nothing with subtitles)’ queue which has to be simple knitting otherwise I go wrong.  Those squares have to be done with concentration so have to be ‘fully conscious during the daytime’ knitting and that’s probably why I’ve fallen behind.

The only thing is, I have taken up a whole bedroom in the new house as my workroom and I tend to knit downstairs so Mr. Tialys is starting to doubt the wisdom of that decision.  This means I have to get back on to that sewing machine but I really do have too many clothes already and my patchwork mojo is decidedly absent at the moment.  I have made a few new items for my Etsy shop but, since the ‘B’ word and the ‘P’ word (Brexit and Pandemic) I’m only selling within the U.K. so my audience is limited and, therefore, so is my enthusiasm for it.

Not to worry – I find that, unlike fly-by-night crafts I sometimes indulge in, my regular enthusiasms are on a constant turnaround  – what happened to my dog portraits for example? I would do those in my workroom.  I’d better get back to them at some stage as I have the national collection of wool fibre in assorted colours – probably enough to make a life-size dog, let alone a 2D ten inch square portrait.

I got up at 6a.m. this morning – the sunlight glinting off the frost woke me up – but I wrote this post instead of knitting another square.  Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.

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Scraphappy Day April

Making things from scraps again this month and, although Mr. Tialys features again – 🙄 – I’m determined not to let him hog the whole post this time and, anyway, I think his contribution has been entered in a previous Scraphappy by somebody else.

Anyway, without further ado, plant pots were some of the many things we left behind in France which may or may not eventually arrive here but probably not.  Mr. T. ordered in some fibre pots which will eventually break down and, although he did give in and buy a pack of plastic ones the other day, the seeds needed small homes.  We’ve saved up the cardboard inner tubes from the loo rolls and Mr. T. manipulates each one into two small seed pots.  At first he was snipping around the diameter of the bottom of each half and folding them in to make a base but found this made quite a shallow pot so now he leaves the bases open and puts them in a tray with a layer of compost in it so that the roots grow into that which then makes it easier to pick the whole plant up and transplant it.  Apparently.

Here are the nasturtiums in their little loo roll homes.

So, enough of Mr. T.’s projects, I also have a contribution this month.  If you remember, I made a wigwam shaped peg bag a little while back and thought I’d make another.

‘But that doesn’t look like much like a scrap project’ I hear you say and you would be right.

I did, however, have scrap left from making the peg bag and this is what I made with it.

Which, I believe, is an excellent excuse for couple of doggie photos.

Kerpow bandana modelled by Stan.

Going grey now – he’ll be 11 in June – but still my handsome boy.

LAST MINUTE EDIT:

Just before ‘going to  press’ Mr Tialys had to have the last word 🙄

Remember all that wood and other old toot that he got off of the bank in the garden?

He just turned it into this

The roof protection is made from a bit of old butyl pond liner also found on the bank.

Then he climbed up the willow tree to position it.

Ready for the blue tits to find if they haven’t found accommodation already.

So, he trumped me again.

Show-off.

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

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42 Comments

A Saturday Evening Treat And A Project Fail

Yesterday evening there was a beautiful rainbow forming a perfect arch over our garage and the end of the garden. Sometimes they don’t last long so I took a photo on my phone rather than go and search for the ‘proper’ camera.  I couldn’t fit the whole arch in so this is just the first half.

It cheered me up – I was a bit fed up as my recent jelly roll rug project didn’t go to plan.

It was all going so well……

…..and then it all started to go horribly wrong.

Despite taking it over to the ironing board fairly regularly and making sure it was all laying flat, the dreaded waviness had taken over – I think caused by joining the last few rounds too tightly.

I undid the last couple of ‘go rounds’ twice, painstakingly unpicking all those zigzag stitches, and tried to re-do them but I still couldn’t get it to lay flat even after steaming the hell out of it and laying it under a weighted flat board.

So, I decided that life is too short and I could use a smaller rug anyway so I just undid the strips until I reached a point where the rug would lay flat, or flattish.

(Ooh! Bright! This is on my bathroom floor.)

It fits quite well under the little vintage dressing table in the, as yet undecorated, spare bedroom.  (She says to explain the marks on the wall but it is true – we haven’t done much of anything inside the house as yet.)

So all was not lost .

I do have two more jelly rolls in my stash but, although I enjoyed making this (until the last bit) and it’s a new and different project under my belt, I’m not sure I’ll be going there again and, anyway, I had a job even finding a place for this little rug so I don’t need any more.

Anyway, the rainbow was a treat – much deeper in colour than I could capture on my phone – and here’s the other side of it slicing through our old oak tree and dipping down into the field beyond

Have you compromised on a project just to get it done with or are you a determined perfectionist?

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