Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Able cable

The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting by Lynne Watterson does exactly what it says on the tin. I have had a go at cable before, but only within easy reach of my darling Mum who is a much more accomplished knitter. With this book I now feel I could fly solo. The pictures are very clear and each new technique is explained thoroughly. The book also cements these every few patterns with a project, which are a sensible size upon which to practice something new. Each section is called a lesson, and it does feel very like a course which builds the complexity of the patterns. The book is very plainly laid out, there are no sumptuous images of fancy yarns and massive knitted blankets of unimaginable complexity but I think this makes it all the more inspirational. I have big plans for my adventures in cable, this book allows you to do that- to use the lessons learned for your future knitting projects- definitely a book shelf staple not a one-project wonder!

Saturday, 27 March 2010


The house is now comfier by two cushions! The wool brooch cushion is sitting in Simon's computer chair, packed with a simple envelope closure made from a piece of waffle tea towel and the back of one of his old shirts. The whole thing cost less than £4. Anna's log cabin cushion is ready at the end of her bed for a spot of gentle reading, or fighting with! I like that it hasn't come out too pale- hopefully this will extend it's appeal. Again I backed this with an envelope closure in pink, red and some piping made from little bits of log cabin strips.

I really enjoyed the log cabin-ing. I can see myself making a much larger scrap quilt with this technique.
I have made some progress with the 20's dress. I have ordered some vintage iron on transfers for the over dress and worked out what colours I'll use. The under dress has an embroidered neck line and arm holes, I won't show you yet, I'm not quite sure how it will all come together.
Next weeks project is some sea themed work, I will tell you more tomorrow. Look after yourselves, I will be, I have a lurking migraine so am trying to avoid too much exertion- (fat chance!)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Bonnie Bonnet

It was guild week last week and one of our members is participating in the "Roses from the Heart" bonnet project. I will quote her information;
This project is the idea of an Australian artist Christina Henri, who plans an installation, featuring 25,566 bonnets (taken from an original 19th century servants bonnet pattern) paying tribute to the lives of all the female convicts, transported to Australia. Bonnets are being made world-wide, and there are plans to hold services to bless the bonnets and the women they commemorate, as well as exhibitions in several countries.

Sylvia, the very lovely lady from the guild had made up some bonnets for those, like me, who lack confidence in their ability in millinery. It was such fun decorating the bonnet, I took the opportunity to try some crochet with the very tiny hooks I'd picked up at a previous guild bring and buy. It is bitter sweet though, thinking of Mary Fearns boarding the Edward in 1834 never to see family or friends again. Her bonnet was doubtless not so white and clean , and certainly wouldn't have been after a long voyage. I did google the name and found reference to her applying to move to Sydney so obviously she survived the journey and found people who she wanted to move to be with when she got there.
n the other side of the bonnet there is my name and where I'm from and another two pink and one yellow flower. It is nice to be part of such a large project.
I have finished the cushions, pictures to follow, and am now working on the 1920s dress. I seem to be sewing the lot by hand, not sure why, but it is very soothing!
The books mentioned in the post bellow are now spoken for.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Colour me in

I have been sent these two titles for review but am totally stumped. I'm afraid these are just totally not my cup of tea but that doesn't make them bad books. They take the reader really carefully through what colours to mix and how to apply paint to a traced image to create a pleasing image. Like I say this just isn't me, I went to an adult education painting class like this and the final success or failiure of ones work seemed to be based on how much it looked like the teachers. (mine didn't!) Anyway these two are up for grabs, I will post in the U.K but would ask that if you would like them you would send me the postage? I think they would really suit someone who has limited confidence in their drawing abilities but enjoys working with the medium of watercolour or acrylic. They might also be useful for a teenager who might like to recreate a work and build their skills along the way. There is also nothing to stop anyone using the tracings and doing something different with them. Anyway let me know if you fancy them- first come- first served!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Cushioned comfort

I managed so much last week and hope to knock a couple of cushions on the head at least before next weekend. I also have the dress for the 'theme party night thingamy knees up' all cut out, so might even get a needle into that. I really don't enjoy cutting out, it's from watching Mum hack away in seconds mercilessly snipping into lovely fabric and tossing the offcuts aside like so much confetti. It took me two early mornings to get the dress, over dress, lining and bag safely cut, I clearly do not have the slash and burn genes- more my fathers carpentry measure twice cut once!
The cushions I have planned are two very different 'designs'. One for Annas room, with log cabin around some motif fabric and the other using up some wool brooches I made which didn't sell. I promise that I WILL iron the fabric before I make them up!
I have also been very pleased to sort a carrier bag of wool and fabric for Will's school who's craft cupboard had apparently run out of such delights?? Some of my boxes and drawers now actually shut without looking like a fabric monster is trying to break out so I feel very relieved.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Granny scarf and old bag

The Water lilly bag is now complete. I knitted a panel in the gorgeous hand dyed and spun wool which I was lucky enough to win, It really was a joy to work with and even after several un-rippings it still looked good! The panel was then put through the machine a few times to lightly felt it. I then used two sheets of wool pre felt and ran them through the embellisher with colours from the wool. I sewed these together and then made a strap long enough to around the entire bag and a lining in cotton. I hand sewed the lining in and the strap on, making a feature of the stitching.
For the closure I used a felt ball that the kids or I had made and beaded it in colours to match, a twisted cord finished the closure.
I was quite surprised with how many different techniques went into this bag. It's quite nice now that I'm not trying to sell my work not to have to think about how commercial it might be and how long it might be around before it sells.

I realise I didn't mention mothering Sunday activities much last week....that would be my guilty conscience. A friend was feeling a bit under the weather and suggested that I bring my crochet bag (and children) round t hers for the afternoon. She has been using the recent magazine to teach herself to crochet and we both decided to have our first attempt at Granny squares. I am now hooked (groan) and yesterday finished adding border to a length of my squares to make a scarf- the colours are like sweeties and it makes me feel very spring like.

I also wanted to let you know that Search Press are celebrating their 40th birthday this summer and are running a competition to win tickets to the artists day they are holding. Further details on their website. There is a competition and free project on their website every month so it's worth a swing by every s often.

I'll be back tomorrow, all things being equal, with what I'll be working on next week.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

'Ere be Dragons

How to Draw and Paint Dragons by Tom Kidd, is much more than one of those children’s ‘how to draw’ books. I was expecting a sort of; draw an oval, a smaller oval and three triangles kind of affair but this isn’t a children’s book. Anyone who has even a vague interest in fantasy and dragons would, I’m sure, enjoy the book simply for the amazing examples of artists work and the almost encyclopaedic information about dragons. The author encourages the reader to build up a repertoire of studies of natural landscapes and observed animal and bird drawings and photos which might inform a fantastical dragon picture. There is huge detail about building up texture, the fall of light and compositional tricks to give perspective or dynamism. Honestly the chapters read like my ‘A’ level art syllabus but all with reference to dragons. There are line drawings at the back of the book which can be scanned or traced for the reader to practice their skills and would mean that even if a reader was young and perhaps unable to complete some of the more demanding artistic exercises they could still enjoy colouring in and placing their own dragons in a landscape of their own imagining.

I will be handing this book onto a fellow teacher of Simon’s who has run lunchtime war gaming clubs with the students and perhaps one of them would benefit from picking up quite complex artistic skills whilst trying to create a really scary dragon!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Swap goodies

which I forgot to photograph- perhaps because it was slightly illicit off-list making, and I shouldn't really have been doing it! Sew scrumptious organised a floral swap you see, now doesn't that sound pretty and cute and just what a gal needs to brighten the cold months? I was paired with Beki and had a really naughty but nice time putting some bits together for her. If you want to see what I made follow the link above to Beki's pictures please!
One think I did make was a Happy Zombie Poochie bag. This was a free pattern from the Happy Zombie site where there are many more, which are all pretty and all the ones I've used have gone together a dream. The bag uses three fat quarters and is such a pretty little bag. It would be the perfect size for a small person to cart favourite toys around, or for a big person to hang and pop things in. (just me?) I did struggle a little with the first sage which is to join two strips on a diagonal to get a strip long enough for a handle. Once I had figured how to cut my angles and line them up to achieve one length-don't roll your eyes - it's harder then it sounds-I found that my strips weren't properly alligned. I phoned Mum, who's eyes I could hear rolling over 300 miles, who said 'oh you mean you have to leave a little ear sticking out like when you join bias binding?'. Why yes mother if only I had ever joined bias binding that would be exactly what I meant. I joined two strips today for the Water lilly bag handle and I left a little ear and it all lined up perfectly- who knew!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Sunny Sunday

The project for this week is to finish my water lillys bag. I did some knitting during my last break at Mum and Dads. The piece wasn't large enough fr a whole bag so I worked some pre-felt on the embellisher and have made a panel for the front. I haven't worked out what to do for a strap, but this will be the challenge for the week ahead.
It has been a lovely sunny day here, just right for a photo shoot, shame I didn't find a hairbrush first!! I bought a skein of hand spun yarn some time back after my sweet sister in law gave me some money to treat myself (thanks Nila!).
I wasn't totally confident about crocheting it but knew I wanted to make a kind of shawl and hoped crochet would give me a loose texture without having to remember a complex pattern. In hindsight I could have used a bigger hook.
Once the wool ran out I edged the scarf/wrap in a lovely silky black yarn and then decided it needed some beads to soften the contrast. I have never knitted with beads and would probably get all het up at the thought, somehow because I don't know how to crochet a just bunged some beads on the wool and had a go. I really like how the beads add weight and another texture. I thought this would be a summer wrap but as the wool is a little itchy on my skin it will be a Spring/Autumn garment and I think it'll look nice over a black or grey top to tart it up a bit. (gosh aren't I the elegant one?!)

Saturday, 13 March 2010


I had such a cool time making this bunting! I loved using some of the new wool stash to crochet some little flowers, I had my first go at bunting and couldn't believe how satisfying it was- I can see myself making LOTS more. This is now our households spring bunting, just need some birthday bunting and with the Christmas pockets and the gorgeous bunting I have been sent on two recent swaps I am sorted!

I have also finished off a scarf/shawl affair that I crocheted and beaded, photos to follow. Two off the list AND a swap parcel posted- it has been a very productive week.

Lets hope the weekend continues to cut me a little crafting slack and I can make some progress on the eight remaining items.....

Friday, 12 March 2010

I love patchwork

Have you seen these dear little coaster sets popping up in Blogland? I think they are really sweet and was really pleased that I have been sent a copy of the book which they are from to review.

I love patchwork (yes I actually really do!) has a variety of 'Zakka' projects using a combination of charming cotton prints and linen fabric to create useful, but very attractive projects. There are some really unusual bits and pieces, a lovely fleecy lamb in a pretty outfit, a perpetual calender, but also the more expected selection of bags and zip-up pouches. These are all well designed and the book has a nice clean feel to it. I found the patchwork coasters really quick and simple to make, I was planning to try out a project which might be more ambitious but despite having what I consider a quite well stocked work room I found I did not have the requisite interfacing or iron on wadding which was needed. Not all of the projects use what I would term patchwork but maybe serious patchworkers would have the extra materials at hand which I did not. None of the materials are obscure so if one was prepared to wait a while and plan ahead any of the items look more than achievable. Maybe next time I shall pick something more challenging now that I have found the coasters went together so well.

I have seen a book called The Impatient Patchworker and would say that this book is the big sister to that title. I am planning for the coasters to be a gift for a good friend and was wondering whether to send the book too but as she is a complete beginner I think I will hold onto it for a bit longer and see what I else I can manage....there is a darling pencil case and I really could do with a neat place to store my crochet hooks.....

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Colour in chapters

The complete guide to Natural Dyeing is a very comprehensive guide to techniques and includes ’recipes’ for dyeing fibre and fabric. Despite containing all the information one could possibly need this is no dry ‘how too’ manual, it is absolutely dripping with gorgeous images. The book is set out into chapters covering basic theory, techniques for achieving different effects and recipes for using natural materials to achieve colours from the vivid to the subtle and discusses the further colours which might be achieved by over dyeing. There is more than a small element of chemistry to the book with talk of the Ph of water and using chemicals to fix the colour. Some of the recipes call for materials which might be readily available from the garden or kitchen but there is a U.K supplier list at the back of the book for the more obscure ingredients. It is a shame that I do not have the facilities for having a try at dyeing in my own small home- I am sure that all manner of unsuspecting objects would end up a different hue if I tried. Had I a shed, a garage, a utility room, any ‘wet play’ area really, this book would be more than enough to tempt me to have a go and get my hands green, blue, yellow, red……..

I really do think this is an excellent book. I can't imagine you would need another on the subject if you owned this!

I have now found the piece of paper upon which I had written the East Kent Embroiderers so I have added the link into the side bar. This book and the previous title I reviewed are going on to guild members but I have a lovely stack of other books to review, and I can tell you now that at least two of them will not be leaving my sight!

Look after yourselves. xxxx

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Bye Baby Bunting

Do you remember these gorgeous silk puffs set to me by the gorgeous silk Karen? There are ten of these beauties and I knew that I wanted to do 'something' with them, I wondered if I should put them into a pretty bowl, but knew that they would gather dust and get played with! Last summer I had started to try crochet and took a ball of dark purple Rowan cotton, I managed to turn out some pretty little flowers and found that the puffs nestled rather sweetly in the middle. The plan then became to make a length of crochet flowers, sewn to a tape, to be hung down a wall. I have made the flowers and now the plan has changed again. I have never before made and bunting, (yes really) but I now plan to make some white bunting for these flowers to be sewn onto......I only hope I can do these delicate puffs justice.
The list of part finished projects is now down to ten- that is half what it was at the turn of the year. The temptation to let other crafting sneak in is growing----must---stay-------strong.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Springy yo-yos batman!

Well looky here, if I haven't gone and managed to finish another 'thing' off the list. I am really loving the Christmas wreath I have made two pelmet vilene disks, covered them in felt and made a selection of yo-yos to decorate it with, I have added buttons and ribbons and I am really looking forward to hanging it on the back of the living room door come December. I had planned an Easter wreath but I think for now I shall resist the urge to start another.

I did manage to fit in one more little bit of fun and sent a springy parcel to Moogsmum. I was a bit shy about sending handmades to Moogsmum, she is a a genius at all manner of crafty stuff, but putting this box together really lifted my spirits and got me feeling a bit more optimistic about the year ahead. (I hope that you are proud of me for sharing some of my lovely new wool)
It has been a funny old week without my trusty, now less crusty, lap top. I have found more time for making, but I didn't realise how often I grab a few moments on line to restore my sanity, a bit like a sneaky smoker! Also town has been a bit bizarre as Walkers crisps came with a bunch of celebs to film a new ad. There have been 'crew' everywhere and lots of groups of school kids loitering about. The ad will be out on March 10th and in one of the YouTube clips you see Jenson Button drive past our house- very surreal. A friend and I were being all grown up and saying we couldn't see the point and that we had never been much bothered by 'stars' until another friend said she had heard that Ewan Mcgregor had been in town. At this point we both nearly wet our knickers and realised that it is all a matter of who you own personal star is as to how excited you might get!!

Oh guys, so sorry to disappoint, the Ewan bit was just a rumour- anyone interested in Mr Lampard?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Art and Embroidery of Jane Hall

The Art and Embroidery of Jane Hall is a hybrid book. It is a book about art, nature, embroidery and it is written poetically, almost meditatively. Jane Hall is a minute examiner of nature and she photographs and sketches flowers, moths, butterflies, shells, all manner of treasure and then reproduces them in the most magical detail. The book is packed full of inspiring images and one has to look and look again to check whether an image is a photo of the ‘real thing’ or has been recreated in tiny snippets of silk, wire and golden thread by Jane herself. Jane makes no secret that her childhood was spent making tea parties for birds and fairies and there is still something quite magical about her work. This is not an instructional text book showing how to recreate Jane’s pieces. I’m not sure that would be possible, but it does encourage one to look very closely at the small magical treasures of nature that can be picked up yards from the front door. Many textile artist work on grand scales and themes creating impressive series of work which are challenging in no uncertain terms, this book is an escape into the minute but I do think that there is a challenge here also to look closer and see more.

I took this book to the last embroiderers guild meeting where it was passed around with much interest. I had asked people to put their names down to go into the hat to have this book when I had finished writing this post.....the list was very long!!

The family computer is waiting to be collected after it's spruce up so I am cheekily snatching moments on Simon's lap top. I'm sorry if I am not managing to reply to everyone or visit you all as much as I would have liked. xx