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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Aran Trivets/Pot Holders

I've been collecting Aran sweaters for a while, you can find lots of them at car boot sales. Over time they tend to felt and shrink a bit and they tend to feel really rigid and heavy so they are not that pleasant to wear anymore. But the texture is beautiful and I love repurposing them into all sorts of things. These hot plates/trivets/pot holders are really handy and look lovely on the dinner table or as a plant pot holder. They're practical too, you can just throw them in the wash if need be, since they have already been felted they won't shrink any further. I'm working on more of these for my shop in a range of colours. I've just listed these...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Granny Square Egg Cosies

My mum was having a clear out last time I visited Australia and she gave me a bag of Grandma's old tapestry yarn in beautiful colours, I think these were left overs from a tapestry Rembrandt that she did. She was also big on crochet, not being able to knit anymore because of arthritis. As a child, I remember my Grandma sitting on her beige velour recliner crocheting granny square after granny square for blankets that I don't remember seeing finished. 

So these egg cup cosies are a tribute to her. Once I started pairing up the colours I couldn't stop until the bag was used up. You can find a pattern for these at the great knitting and crochet resource by the fab Norwegian designers at Pickles

I often find really cute egg cosies at car boot sales, I once found a little set of vintage cotton poplin egg warmers with little matching placements embroidered with little chickens. You do have to wonder who really needs to keep their boiled eggs warm, but having said that I do find that preparing a soft boiled egg breakfast is a bit of a military operation, ensuring everyone's eggs are perfectly runny and have buttery soldiers at the ready.  So having a few egg cosies handy could help whilst you round up the troops to the table I suppose. Anyway with Easter and Spring approaching it's nice to have a few egg related objects around. 

I have these pairs of egg cosies for sale on my etsy shop, they are just a limited edition now that Grandma's tapestry yarns are satisfying all used up and all the proceeds will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders).

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Blue Zig Zag Quilt

I found some real textile goodies on the weekend at a stash sale at Fabrications , a great crafty eco design shop/workshop run by pioneering sustainable textile artist Barley Massey. In my haul, amongst a few of the gems, was packet of fabric that on closer inspection turned out to be two parts of an unfinished patchwork.

I had been trying to make a version of the Purl Bee zig zag quilt for Merlin for ages, well since he got his own bed about a month ago, but the project had been stalling while I tried to make all the perfect fabric choices. So I was thrilled that I didn't have to make those decisions and could finish another's stalled project. I think that's one reason I avoid buying new materials because if you get me in a fabric store, it's like being a kid in a sweet shop, you just want a bit of everything! And that makes it impossible to make any style choices. It explains a bit why my etsy shop is a bit of a mish mash with items from crochet to paper mobiles to shoes. I also can't decide which craft I like best, I just want to make it all!

So in my Fabrications bag (a bargain at only three quid!) there was two pieces of fabric that had been lovingly stitched in a blue and white zig zag pattern. I sewed to two pieces together to make one, and they magically matched the exact dimensions of the crib quilt cotton wadding I had bought for the quilt. I backed it with some organic fair trade cotton I picked up, stitched along the ditches of the zig zags to quilt the sandwich and trimmed it with a bit of ecru bias binding. It's really cute and perfect for the warmer coming months. I am thinking of adding some running stitches width wise and the giving it hot wash to shrink the cotton wadding to give it a bit of a wrinkly antique look but I'm not sure if this would be overkill.

I'd love to know who started this quilt or whatever they intended this fabric to be and to show them that their hard work didn't go to waste that it is actually being appreciated again and given a new lease on life...

I also picked up some beautiful hemp/burlap grain sacks from Barley's Grandmother's time, when she worked in the Lancashire textile mills. I'll put some pictures up soon of these and see what they would like to become...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Doll making - Day 2

Doll making day of reckoning. Assembly time. This was the hard bit, I had been stressing about getting the face right. I have learnt making my owl dolls and other dolls in the past that a few embroidery stitches can either make or break your doll and I wanted to get his expression just right... Anyway to cut a long story short, I did it! I am super pleased with him and Merlin has already given him a tea party and lots of cuddles. He's also remarked that he has "nice hair" (see post below). This is truly a man after my own heart, I knew he appreciated luxurious fibres. All he needs now are some hand knit clothes. Oh joy!

To see pics of the doll in the making see previous post

Doll making - Day 1

I've not been able to post as much as I'd like to, we've been knocked out here with that cold virus going around, it's nothing a little sunshine wouldn't fix I'm sure, but we are yet to see much of that in London so far...But thankfully I've still managed to fit in some making. I have been doing a Steiner Waldorf doll making workshop with the lovely talented ladies at Dalston Dolls.

I have been wanting to make Merlin a doll for a while and the two day workshop was so much fun. There was a whole lot more to it that I really imagined, the head shaping took the most part of day one. The head is built up of layers, first a ball of yarn around which layers of carded wool are wrapped until you have quite a large dense ball, then you stretch over a bandage tube, create an eyeline and shape the skull with tightly tied twine and then stretch over your skin coloured jersey fabric. It was a fascinating process.

At the end of the day we had a collection of body parts ready to assemble the following week. These days there are a whole lot of crafts one can pick up online through youtube and tutorials, but this is something I'm so glad I did with experienced makers. Not only was the company absolutely lovely but this turned out to be a really skillful process and I just don't think I would have had the kind of satisfying experience making my first doll without the support and guidance of two makers who have done it many times before.

Between classes I went off to Loop London to find some hair for him and found the most perfect doll hair from my favourite yarn company Habu Textiles. It is their mohair loop and although it is not cheap at 9 quid per 14gm skein,  I could probably get three short heads of hair out of one ball, so it's actually not bad. I'm just excited I've found another excuse for working with the most luxurious of fibre companies. Anyway, if you're going to spend over 20 hours making something you ought to use the best materials.

Friday, 4 March 2011


I just wanted to share these three paintings that my two year old did today.

I know I am incredibly biased by I find them so remarkable and it was just so enchanting watching him do them.

The careful selection of colours, their placement on the paper and the wonderfully free brush strokes seemed so deliberate and considered yet so blissfully uncontrived. I found myself trying to copy his method but failed to unleash my inner child.

But it was really freeing and something I think I'll keep practising, while I have the company of such a teacher.

These are Merlin's he pointed out whilst painting them, the top one features a Christmas tree on the left and a squirrel eating at the top of the picture. The middle painting didn't have any description but the bottom one depicts a yellow sun and a rainbow.
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