Archive for category Arts and Crafts

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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43 Comments

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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39 Comments

On a Roll With The Jelly Roll

I know some of you like to see progress reports for projects and, although it’s something I don’t usually think to do, this jelly roll project is going so fast I thought I would.

I got off to a very rocky start.  I followed some advice on a YouTube video to made an oval shape for the centre in order  to help make getting round those first few curves a bit  easier.

As you can see, it didn’t work for me.

Then, disaster struck and my sewing machine decided it didn’t like doing the zigzag stitch as a zigzag stitch should be done,

I undid it all and started again.

I switched from a walking foot to an ordinary one and cleared the feed dogs of accumulated years  of lint and fluff.  I suspect it was the latter which proved more helpful but I haven’t bothered to put the walking foot back on anyway.

The ends were still curving up a little so every time the thread breaks (depressingly often) or I haven’t quite caught both sides in the zigzag I steam press the hell out of those curves.

Which seems to have helped.

You must only join the new ‘rope’ from the right hand side or you will end up with a rather large expanse of coiled fabric where there is no room for it.  Somebody else did this – and thought to tell us – so we now don’t have to make the same mistake and t will all grow out to the left and on to the raised flat surface you have provided for it.

I know it won’t be perfect in the end – the zigzag still plays up now and then and I managed to get an odd curve in the centre piece –   but I’m quite pleased with how it’s progressing.

The thread snapped (again) and, as I’d just started joining the colour change to red, I thought it would be a good time to give it another steaming and take a progress photo.

I think these would make very nice place mats if you didn’t want to  go the whole hog and made a rug.

Just as an aside, Dawn asked what Wonder Clips are.  I usually use them to hold on the binding of a quilt after it’s been machine stitched down on one side and waiting for me to hand stitch it down on the other.

Like so –

In the rug project I used them to hold the folded length of fabric and batting in place while I fed it into my sewing machine.

Hopefully, the next update will be a finished rug – I’m zipping along with it.  Then I can catch up with my knit-along project disturbed only by reaching for another piece of Easter Egg and Mr. Tialys telling me what he’s up to in the garden and what he’s done with the seven or eight bags of potting compost I  saw being unloaded from the boot of his car yesterday.

Have a good Easter break wherever you are. x

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Tight Lipped Tuesday Project Progress

Yesterday I asked you to guess what I was making with a jelly roll of fabric and some strips of batting/wadding.

For the uninitiated a jelly roll is approximately 42 x 2.5 inch strips of fabric, usually from a coordinated range, cut across the width of the fabric and rolled up into a pleasing shape like  this.

Now, three of these jelly rolls remain in my stash and, as I literally have no more room in our house for any more quilts (or crocheted/knitted blankets) and all the people I love enough to toil for hours over a new quilt already have one, when I saw a project that used a jelly roll and some batting (also in my stash), I knew it had to be done.

As two of you guessed and a couple more might have suspected the project is indeed a jelly roll rug and as I have not yet filled my house with rugs I thought I’d give it a go.

So, first step is to join the strips of fabric.  I did this with a diagonal seam as I think it is more discreet than a straight join.  Then I lay the batting strips on the fabric strips, folded the long edges into the  middle and then fold again.  I held my somewhat bulky strips with wonder clips as I fed them into my machine which I had furnished with a walking foot and a denim needle.  Then I sewed up the long, long, long (did I say it was long) edge with a narrow seam.  Some people sew up the centre of the strip but I don’t want more  thread than necessary showing on the finished rug.

I let the emerging long fabric snake fall into coils into a wire basket behind my machine like so –

– in the probably vain hope that it will be easier to feed back into the machine when the  time comes to join them all together in a big, squidgy oval shape.

I’m not actually using a pattern but have watched numerous YouTube videos on how to put one of these together so I’m hoping I’ll be fine.

One tip I learnt was to use an extension table on your sewing machine so that, as the rug grows, it will lay flat because not laying flat appears to be one of the pitfalls of these rugs.  I haven’t got an extension table so I built up the level around my machine with  a variety of filing boxes and files.

So, many fabric strips later, I have a nice curled snake in the basket.

Ready for the next stage which I will attempt tomorrow (or maybe Friday)

I’m afraid the KAL (knit along) blanket I’m supposed to be doing has met with some delay 🙄

Still, like I said, I don’t need another blanket.

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36 Comments

Tight Lipped Tuesday #30

Sometimes, even though I have more than enough going on already, I get seduced by a project I see online.

Especially if I already have all the ‘ingredients’.

Can you guess what I’m hoping to make?

This is as far as I’ve got.

I might be some time.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #29

Another in my intermittent series of posts with very few words which, as you know, is rare for me and my first ‘tight lipped’ one since arriving back in England.

 

I bought my very  large self healing cutting mat when I first started patchwork classes around 20 years ago.

It served me very well until this happened.

No longer a flat surface on which to cut fabric, it had to go.

The culprit

white and teal steam clothes iron plugged on ironing board

Aided and abetted by me.

I can now attest that steam blocking knitting on top of a cutting mat – even when you have a thick felt pad in between – does not end well.

In case you had ever thought it would.

Every cloud has a silver lining however and I now have a shiny new mat in a much more cheerful green with inches on one side….

and a lovely shade of blue with centimetres on the other.

Still, I won’t be doing that again.

 

 

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32 Comments